Saturday, October 12, 2013

Nobel Peace Prize 2013

Patrick Chappatte, Cagle Cartoons, Le Temps, Switzerland


By Eric Margolis

"Forty years ago–6 October 1973 – Egyptian forces stormed the supposedly “impregnable” Israeli Bar Lev fortifications along the Suez Canal. Syrian forces advanced onto the Israel-occupied Golan Heights. 
In spite of scores of warnings, Israel was taken by surprise. Prime Minister Golda Meir and Defense Minister Moshe Dayan sneered at the Arabs as incompetent bunglers and could not imagine that the Syrians and Egyptians who had been quickly routed in the 1967 war could have the audacity to attack Israel.
Israeli armored units counterattacked with their usual panache. Israel’s air force, among the world’s best, pounced on the advancing Egyptians and Syrians. To their dismay, new, Soviet-supplied Sagger AT-3 anti-tank missiles and Egyptian infantry with shoulder-fired RPG missiles shattered Israel’s armored thrusts that rashly lacked infantry support.
New Soviet SA-6 and older SA-2 and SA-3 anti-aircraft missiles, and hundreds of AA guns, shot down almost 20% of Israel’s air force. On Golan, close to 1,000 Syrian tanks advanced.
As a veteran war correspondent, I had been able to inspect Egypt’s Suez Canal deployments, and both Syrian and Israeli positions on Golan. Both sides fought like lions. But Israel enjoyed major advantages: its superb air force, its highly-trained tank crews, and British and American tanks that were much superior to the Soviet T-54/55 or T-62’s of the Egyptians and Syrians.
On Golan, 100 Israeli Centurions held up close to 800 Syrians tanks. Using their deadly 105mm cannon, Israel’s tankers picked off advancing Syrian armor at ranges of over 3 kms.
Small Israeli forts on Golan played a key defensive role.
Israel’s defense of Golan was a second Thermopylae.
Eventually, overwhelming Syrian forces pushed almost to the
edge of the Golan Heights above the strategic B’not Ya’acov Bridge. Northern Israel lay exposed.
Then, mysteriously, Syria’s armored juggernaut halted. To this day the reason is uncertain. The Syrian high command may have been frightened of advancing into Israel, fearing its exposed flanks would be attacked (this was the French theory of allowing gaps in their defensive line to encourage the enemy to cross them and then be attacked on three sides).
I was told by Soviet military intelligence that the Syrian halt was caused by Moscow’s warning to Damascus that Israel was deploying its nuclear armed missiles to strike the advancing Syrians.
By contrast, Prof. Alon ben-Meir, a highly respected Israeli intelligence and military analyst who was there tells me that Israel would never use nukes so close to its populated areas. By why then does Israel reportedly still have nuclear land mines? Is this what Pulitzer-prize winner Seymour Hersh calls Israel’s “Sampson Option” ?
Or, it may be that Syria’s strongman, Hafez al-Assad, was confused, and fearful of losing his army. Syria’s plan was to retake Golan, not advance into Israel proper. Meanwhile, Israel was rapidly mobilizing its reserved armored units and rushing them up to Golan.
At the same time, a massive US military airlift was under way to resupply the Israelis who were critically low on missiles, bombs, spare parts and other war gear. President Richard Nixon authorized the air bridge that saved Israel on the 11th hour. Ironic since he was reputed to be an anti-Semite. Nixon and his foreign policy chief Henry Kissinger worried that failure to resupply Israel could cause the Republican Party to lose votes and funding.
The US aided Israel in another critically important way. A US SR-71 Blackbird Mach 3 recon aircraft and satellites spotted a yawning gap in Egypt’s lines that separated its two armies on the east side of the Canal. Israel’s brilliant Gen. Ariel Sharon exploited this gap, rushing his armor across the Suez Canal and destroying much of Egypt’s anti-aircraft guns and missiles on its west side that had been fending off the Israeli Air Force. Israel’s crossing the canal cut off Egypt’s two armies on the other side of the Canal.
Egypt and Syria fought ponderously as they were trained by Soviet advisors. Israel’s tank forced fought in the German style of lightening movement. In the end, both sides won victories: Egypt at least restored its pride by the daring Suez Canal crossing; Israel proved it could smash its Arab foes.
Israel went on to prosper and grow stronger. Egypt slides deeper into dictatorship and near total US influence."

US arms halt to Egypt largely 'symbolic'

"Cairo (AFP) - By suspending military aid to Egypt, Washington is pressing Cairo to end the bloodshed on the streets but its largely "symbolic" act is unlikely to have a concrete impact, analysts say.
They say the "half-measured" move reflects the lack of a clear US foreign policy on Egypt, where a political crisis since strongman Hosni Mubarak was toppled in 2011 has worsened after the July 3 ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.
On Wednesday, Washington suspended deliveries of major military hardware and cash assistance of $260 million to the Egyptian military, which ousted Morsi in a coup.
The decision will stop deliveries of big-ticket items such as Apache helicopters, F-16 fighters, M1A1 Abrams tank parts and Harpoon missiles.
Washington says the suspension will remain in place until Egypt moves towards an elected and "inclusive" democratic civilian government.
"The political impact of this decision is more important than the material impact on the ground," said Hassan Nafaa, professor of political science at Cairo University.
"By postponing the military aid, the US administration is putting pressure on the Egyptian adminstration to change its policy (towards supporters of Morsi) but that will not happen."
Islamists and members of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood have been the target of a brutal government campaign since a deadly August 14 assault by security forces on two pro-Morsi protest camps in Cairo.
More than 1,000 people have been killed across Egypt since then, and over 2,000 Islamists have been detained. Morsi too has been held at an unknown location since his ouster.
Washington has repeatedly called for an end to the bloodshed that has rocked Egypt since Morsi's ouster as his supporters, who reject the new military-installed interim government, regularly clash with security forces.
On Sunday, at least 57 people were killed, most of them in Cairo, when Morsi's Islamist supporters battled security forces.
Days after the August 14 crackdown, US President Barack Obama said that "our traditional cooperation cannot continue as usual when civilians are being killed in the streets."
Obama had ordered his national security team to review the total $1.5 billion in annual US aid to Egypt
Egypt said it would not succumb to the latest US move which came as an Egyptian court set November 4 for the start of Morsi's trial for inciting the murder of protesters outside his presidential palace last December.
"It is a flawed decision in terms of content and timing and raises serious questions over the United States' readiness to provide strategic support to Egypt's security programmes," Egypt's foreign ministry said.
Egypt, traditionally a key US ally in the Arab world, said it "will continue to take decisions regarding its domestic affairs with full independence and without foreign pressure".
US Secretary of State John Kerry tried to appease Egypt on Thursday, saying Washington's move was not a "withdrawal from our relationship" with Cairo or "severing of our serious commitment to helping the government" on the transition to democracy.
For analysts, Washington's decision is the latest example of a short-sighted policy towards Egypt with no significant impact.
"This is a short-term measure divorced from any broad strategy. There is no need to read much into it. But the fact is that this US adminstration lacks a clear foreign policy," Shadi Hamed, director of research at Brookings Doha Center, told AFP.
He said that the decision would not force Egypt's military to look elsewhere for its future arms needs as "you can't overnight overhaul your military systems."
"But what it shows is that this symbolic move is adopted by a cautious US administration which has no bold measures for the Middle East. It leaves a lot of questions unanswered," Hamed added.
'Only bothered about Israel's security'
Hisham Kassem, an independent political analyst, said Washington's decision also showed that the United States was concerned only about Israel's security.
"Washington is sending a message that Obama is only bothered about Israel's security and not of Egypt," he said.
Kassem referred to the fact that the United States will continue to offer Cairo assistance aimed at securing Egypt's borders and for bolstering "counter-terrorism, proliferation, and security in Sinai," which neighbours Israel and Gaza.
The 1978 Camp David peace accords between Israel and Egypt have until now been a cornerstone of Washington's military aid to Egypt.
Israel had reportedly asked Washington to maintain military aid to Egypt.
"What we are seeing is a fickle short-term policy initiative. A time will come when the Americans would have to find a back door for the position they took on Egypt," said Kassem."

Egypt: Boat sinking underlines wider tragedy for refugees from Syria

"Today’s shipwreck off the coast of Alexandria that drowned at least 12 people, many believed to be refugees from Syria, highlights the crushing life-and-death decisions facing many who fled to Egypt to escape Syria’s armed conflict, Amnesty International said.

The organization is due to launch a briefing next week on the plight of refugees from Syria in Egypt, and currently has a delegation on the ground researching the situation.

“Our research has shown how the backdrop to today’s terrible boat accident is a much wider tragedy. Refugees from Syria are compelled to risk life and limb yet again in Egypt after facing arbitrary arrests, detentions and increased hostility,” said Sherif Elsayed-Ali, Amnesty International's Head of Refugee and Migrants' Rights.

“Refugees from Syria have fled the depths of despair to seek safety in Egypt. But instead of providing shelter and hope for a new life, the Egyptian authorities’ actions are compelling many refugees from Syria into life-threatening situations, including entrusting their lives to smugglers in order to make the perilous journey across the Mediterranean Sea.”

According to media reports, at least 100 people were rescued from today’s shipwreck and taken to a naval base and then to a police station in Alexandria. It is unknown what will happen to them next.

A second boat carrying migrants from Tunisia to Italy also reportedly sank off the coast of the island of Lampedusa today.

The shipwrecks come just a week after another tragic sinking off the coast of Lampedusa in Italy, in which more than 100 migrants and asylum-seekers – mainly Eritreans and Somalis – were killed when the overcrowded vessel carrying them sank after reportedly catching fire."

In US military aid to Egypt, business as usual

Exclusive data show that a steady stream of American military equipment continued to flow after the military coup


Security forces clear Mustafa Mahmoud Square in Cairo on August 14, 2013.
An Army bulldozer and a Humvee breach barricades erected by supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi as riot police clear Cairo's Mustafa Mahmoud Square on Aug. 14.
AFP/Getty Images
"In the months between Egypt’s July 3 military coup and the Obama administration’s announcement on Wednesday that it would suspend some military assistance to Egypt, nearly 2,000 tons of critical U.S. military equipment continued to flow to Egyptian ports, according to shipping data obtained by “Fault Lines.”The data, commissioned by Al Jazeera from TransArms, a Chicago-based research center that tracks arms shipments, show that, aside from a delay in one comparatively small delivery of four F-16 fighter jets, the shipping of crucial equipment to Egypt — including vehicles used for crowd control — never ceased.
From July 3 to Sept. 24, the last date for which data were available, eight ships left New York, Baltimore and Norfolk, Va., bound for the Egyptian cities of Damietta and Alexandria, where they unloaded defense equipment covered by laws that require State Department approval. The cargo included combat vehicles, various missile systems, and spare parts and support equipment for F-16s, AH-64 Apache helicopters, C-130 transport planes, M109 howitzers, M1A1 Abrams tanks and other items.
Humvees and heavy earth-moving equipment made by Caterpillar also sailed during this time. Both these kinds of vehicles were among those used by Egyptian security forces when they violently dispersed supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi from Cairo’s Rabaa al-Adawiya and Nahda squares on Aug. 14. Hundreds were killed in what Human Rights Watch described as the “most serious incident of mass unlawful killings in Egypt’s modern history.” Though the type of equipment is the same, it is difficult to confirm whether the vehicles used against protesters in August were shipped after the coup, because Egypt has been receiving such vehicles for years.
“The U.S. law says it in plain language. When there’s a military coup, aid should be suspended. Instead, what we have here is a signal to the Egyptian military that says, ‘Full speed ahead,’” said Frank Jannuzi, deputy executive director of Amnesty International USA.
Washington had appeared to be fumbling for the right response to Morsi’s removal and the subsequent violent crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood and other supporters. The administration declined to call his ouster a military coup, saying such a determination would not be in the interests of the United States. Doing so would have triggered a law forbidding military assistance to governments installed by coups.
In July the administration announced that it would delay the delivery of four F-16s, which Jannuzi called a “minuscule slap on the wrist,” and a day after the Aug. 14 mass killings, President Barack Obama called off the biennial U.S.-Egyptian military exercise known as Bright Star.
On Wednesday the Obama administration announced it would hold back on delivering certain big-ticket items: M1A1 tanks, F-16s, Apache helicopters and Harpoon missile systems. Equipment used for counterterrorism and security in the Sinai would continue to flow to Egypt, as would spare parts and funds for military training. A majority of Americans support cutting off the aid on account of the violence, according to a poll by the Pew Research Center......

Since January, more than 11,000 tons of military equipment and hardware have been shipped to Egypt. This likely includes military sales between the Defense Department and Egypt as well as a small amount of direct commercial sales between defense contractors and the Egyptian government. The amount of military hardware shipped to Egypt during the first nine months of 2013 was almost double the 6,500 tons delivered in all of 2012......"

Friday, October 11, 2013

At least two dozen killed after boat capsizes near Lampedusa

(Cartoon by Kap, Cagle Cartoons, La Vanguardia, Spain)

Fresh tragedy occurs in the same waters where last week more than 300 migrants travelling from north Africa lost their lives

The Guardian,

Al-Jazeera Video: صورة الإعلام المصري خلال مائة يوم مضت

"مع الإطاحة بالرئيس محمد مرسي في الثالث من يوليو/تموز الماضي أطيح أيضا بمبادئ التنوع والتعددية في وسائل الإعلام المصرية، لا سيما التلفزيونية منها. في البدء أَغلق الحكامُ الجدد قنوات فضائية عدة ومنعوا أخرى من العمل. "

Al-Jazeera Video: حديث الثورة - السيسي يطلب تحصينه كوزير للدفاع

U.S. Officials Say Libya Approved Commando Raids

N Y Times

"WASHINGTON — The Libyan government in recent weeks tacitly approved two American commando operations in its country, according to senior American officials, one to capture a senior militant from Al Qaeda and another to seize a militia leader suspected of carrying out the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks on the United States diplomatic mission in Benghazi.

The Qaeda leader, Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai, was captured by American commandos in Tripoli on Saturday in a raid that the United States had hoped to keep secret, but that leaked out to the news media. The operation has been widely denounced by Libyan officials, who have called it a kidnapping and said they had played no role in it.
While American officials expected that the Libyan government would claim that it had known nothing about the operation, news of the raid has raised concerns that the suspect in the Benghazi attacks, Ahmed Abu Khattala, has now been tipped off that the United States has the ability to conduct an operation in Libya......"

Syria: Executions, Hostage Taking by Rebels

Planned Attacks on Civilians Constitute Crimes Against Humanity

Human Rights Watch

"(New York) – Armed opposition groups in Syria killed at least 190 civilians and seized over 200 as hostages during a military offensive that began in rural Latakia governorate on August 4, 2013, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. At least 67 of the victims were executed or unlawfully killed in the operation around pro-government Alawite villages.
The 105-page report, “‘You Can Still See Their Blood’: Executions, Indiscriminate Shootings, and Hostage Taking by Opposition Forces in Latakia Countryside,” presents evidence that the civilians were killed on August 4, the first day of the operation. Two opposition groups that took part in the offensive, the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham and Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar, are still holding the hostages, the vast majority women and children. The findings strongly suggest that the killings, hostage taking, and other abuses rise to the level of war crimes and crimes against humanity, Human Rights Watch said.
“These abuses were not the actions of rogue fighters,” said Joe Stork, acting Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “This operation was a coordinated, planned attack on the civilian population in these Alawite villages.”......"

Al-Jazeera Cartoon

كاريكاتير: الكيميائي السوري

General Sisi and his followers are condemning Egypt to greater turmoil

Tires burnining in Cairo
Tires burn as Egyptian Muslim brotherhood and supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi clash with riot police in Cairo on 6 October. Photograph: Mohammed Abdel Moneim/AFP/Getty Images
The US decision to stop military aid is not enough to stem the escalating violence. Terrorist attacks on civilians could be next
The Guardian,

"The Obama administration's decision to suspend some military aid to Egypt is a clear case of better late than never. Although an announcement was originally planned for August, its timing now is a warning to Cairo's military coup-makers that their repressive treatment of the opposition risks plunging Egypt into uncontrollable violence.
Troops again shot scores of peaceful Muslim Brotherhood protesters last weekend, and the next day unknown assailants struck a series of military and government targets in the most serious counterviolence since the coup. No one has taken responsibility for the attacks but it was predictable that General Abdul Fatah al-Sisi's refusal to relax the clampdown on the Brotherhood would provoke violence. In what other country in the world today is an elected president held for three months with no access to his family or lawyers? In what other country are demonstrators routinely shot without warning, not with birdshot or rubber bullets but live ammunition?
Egypt has not seen such brutal repression for decades. The last few years of Hosni Mubarak's rule now seem almost benevolent: in spite of tight overall control, demonstrations were more or less tolerated and the Brotherhood was allowed to run candidates for parliament as independents. Egypt's regime-influenced courts have started proceedings not just to ban the political party that the Brotherhood set up after 2011 but to outlaw the organisation and its social welfare network altogether. The Brotherhood's own record on human rights, during the year it had partial power in Egypt, was not good. It made little effort to rein in the police, whose abuses were one of the main complaints that led to the demonstrations in January 2011. Indeed, there were times when the Brotherhood was willing to encourage police thuggery against its opponents. Yet Mohamed Morsi's many failings cannot match, let alone justify, what has happened since the coup of 3 July this year.
Equally grim is the virtual absence of public criticism or peaceful protest from other sectors of Egyptian society other than the Brotherhood's supporters. The Twittersphere is still free for dissent and there have not yet been reprisals or arrests for posting anti-army comments there or on Facebook. The regime sees this as a useful safety valve. More significant is its flooding of the official press, the TV stations and the talkshows with grotesque smears of the Brotherhood and all its works, as well as of the few prominent non-Brotherhood figures who have spoken out, such as Mohamed ElBaradei. Primitive though the propaganda is, it has convinced an astonishing number of otherwise sensible Egyptians. As a result, politics have become almost completely polarised. The emotional tone of what passes for debate has never been more shrill, and the chances of eventual reconciliation look daily more flimsy.
Some Salafis have joined the Brotherhood's protests but the al-Nour party, which represented them in the last election, still wavers between support for the coup and silence. A few secular liberals mutter behind a comforting intellectual stance of "neither the Brotherhood nor the army", but unless this fence-sitting is abandoned in favour of open condemnation of today's main threat to civil liberties – which comes from the army – it is politically vacuous. The business community hunkers down and hopes for a few crumbs, even though the economy is in tatters and cannot live for ever off loans from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Tourism is dead and Monday's attacks near the Red Sea resorts, the first violence there for several years, will further delay its recovery.
Yet, far from contributing to stability, what General Sisi and his civilian followers are doing will only condemn Egypt to greater turmoil. As well as hitting the Red Sea area for the first time, this week's attacks also saw the first use of rocket-propelled grenades against government targets in central Cairo. If Iraq is any guide, the next stage will be terrorist violence against civilians through car bombs and suicide vests. General Sisi will probably put himself forward as a candidate for the presidency, exploiting the rise in violence to claim Egypt needs a new strongman. But what it really needs is a gradually recovering economy, social justice, a properly managed, non-abusive police force, a politically engaged citizenry, and the enabling environment of media pluralism, multi-party options and civic tolerance that are the true pillars of stability."

Canadian pair describe ordeal in Egyptian prison

John Greyson and Tarek Loubani were beaten and kept in cell crammed with prisoners before finally being released this week,

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Egyptian Repression, by Khalil Bendib

3 Months After Morsi Coup & Hundreds of Deaths, U.S. Scales Back Military Aid to Egypt

Democracy Now!

"The White House has announced it will suspend some of its $1.5 billion in annual military aid to Egypt until the country ushers in a democratic government. Reuters reports that some of the items to be withheld include Abrams tanks, F-16 aircraft, Apache helicopters and Harpoon missiles. The United States has avoided the automatic suspension of all military aid to Egypt by refusing to deem Mohamed Morsi’s ouster a coup. Hundreds of Morsi supporters have been killed by state forces since his ouster in July. Egypt, meanwhile, has set a date of November 4 for Morsi to stand trial for inciting the murder of protesters. "We believe Morsi should be prosecuted. He should be held accountable for crimes that he authored during his one year in office," says Hossam Bahgat, founder and executive director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights. "But the kinds of prosecutions we are seeing are completely selective and punitive. It makes no sense to see Morsi being prosecuted for having incited the killing of 10 protesters when 1,000 protesters were killed on August 14 and there isn’t even an investigation into it."....."

Real News Video: US Cuts to Egyptian Military Won't Weaken Coup Regime

Mohamed Elmeshad: Dozens killed in clashes across Egypt over the past week, highlighting the violent nature of the country's US-backed coup regime

More at The Real News

قلق إسرائيلي من قرار تجميد المساعدات الأمريكية لمصر

الدبابات المصرية في الشوارع


عبر مسؤولون إسرائيليون عن "خيبة أملهم وقلقهم" من إعلان وزارة الخارجية الأمريكية، يوم أمس الأربعاء، عن تجميد مئات
 ملايين الدولارات من المساعدات العسكرية لمصر، والتي تقدر بـ1.3 مليار دولار سنويا.

وكانت قد أعلنت الناطقة بلسان الخارجية الأمريكية أن جزءا من هذه المساعدات سيجمد إلى حين تشكيل حكومة منتخبة في انتخابات حرة وعادلة.

كما أعلنت الولايات المتحدة أنها ستواصل تقديم المساعدة لمصر في "الدفاع عن حدودها من الإرهاب، والحفاظ على الأمن في سيناء، وكذلك في مجالي التعليم والصحة".

يشار إلى أن تجميد المساعدات يعني تجميد تسليم مصر إرساليات تحتوي على قطع للدبابات وطائرات قتالية وصورايخ، إضافة إلى مساعدات مالية بقيمة 260 مليون دولار.

وعلى صلة، نقلت "نيويورك تايمز" صباح اليوم عن مصادر رسمية إسرائيلية وخبراء إسرائيليين تعقيبهم على تجميد المساعدات، حيث عبروا عن "خيبة أملهم وقلقهم" رغم أن الإعلان كان متوقعا في الأيام الأخيرة.

وكتبت صحيفة "هآرتس" أن إسرائيل تعتبر المساعدات الأمريكية ركنا مركزيا في اتفاقية السلام مع القاهرة، ومركبا ضروريا في الحفاظ على الاستقرار في المنطقة. كما أشارت الصحيفة إلى أنه تم تبليغ الحكومة المصرية مؤخرا بأنها تستطيع أن تعتمد على اللوبي الإسرائيلي في واشنطن لكي ينشط من أجل مواصلة تقديم المساعدات لمصر.

ونقلت "نيويورك تايمز" عن مسؤول إسرائيلي رسمي قوله إن إسرائيل تشارك في المباحثات في الإدارة الأمريكية بشأن تقليص المساعدات لمصر. وحذر المسؤول نفسه من أن أبعاد هذه الخطوات قد تتجاوز علاقات إسرائيل – مصر. وبحسبه فإن "الولايات المتحدة تلعب بالنار".

وقال المسؤول الإسرائيلي إنه لا يمكن تفكيك اتفاقية السلام مع مصر أو إخراج جزء منه. وأضاف أن هناك عناصر أخرى في هذه المشكلة، وهي غير مرتبطة بإسرائيل، بل مرتبطة بموقف الولايات المتحدة من العالم العربي.

واعتبر المسؤول نفسه أن المساعدات الأمريكية هي دلالة على حضور والتزام الولايات المتحدة. وتساءل "في حال أدارت الظهر لمصر، حليفتها القديمة، فكيف سيبدو ذلك؟.

وكتبت "هآرتس" أن إسرائيل حاولت في الشهور الأخيرة إقناع الولايات المتحدة بأن الحفاظ على اتفاقية السلام أهم من معاقبة النظام بسبب العنف في الشوارع. ونقلت عن مسؤولين إسرائيلين قولهم لنظرائهم الأمريكيين في البيت الأبيض إنها طالما ظلت المساعدات الأمريكية تصل إلى القاهرة، فإن الحكومة في مصر تظل قادرة على مواجهة الانتقادات ضد استمرار اتفاقية السلام مع إسرائيل، وتستطيع الحكومة أيضا الادعاء بأنه يجب التمسك بهذا الاتفاق".

ولفتت "هآرتس" إلى أن مسؤولين في الأجهزة الأمنية الإسرائيلية قالوا في الأسابيع الأخيرة إنه حتى لو لجأ النظام في مصر إلى العنف ضد المتظاهرين، فيجب مواصلة العلاقة والتعاون لأن المصالح المشتركة للقدس والقاهرة ضد الاخوان المسلمين أهم من ذلك بكثير.

وردا على سؤال حول تأثير وقف المساعدات الأمريكية لمصر على علاقات الأخيرة مع إسرائيل، قال الوزير غلعاد أردن، صباح اليوم في مقابلة مع إذاعة الجيش، إنه يأمل ألا يكون لذلك أي تأثير.

كما لفتت "هآرتس" إلى أنه بعد عزل الرئيس المصري السابق محمد مرسي، توجهت الحكومة الإسرائيلية إلى الإدارة الأمريكية وطلبت عدم المس بالمساعدات المقدمة إلى القاهرة، بادعاء أن ذلك قد يضعف الجيش المصري، ويضعف احتمالات تثبيت الاستقرار في المنطقة.

وفي هذا السياق قال المسؤول الإسرائيلي لـ "نيويورك تايمز" إن إسرائيل طلبت من الولايات المتحدة إعطاء مصر فرصة. وبحسبه فإن تغيير السياسة الأمريكية تجاه مصر قد يتحول بسرعة إلى شرخ.

Obama’s aid cut to Egypt is a sham

By Ali Abunimah

A US-made Egyptian army Boeing AH-64 Apache attack helicopter hovers over Cairo’s Tahrir Square during a 26 July 2013 rally in support of the military coup.
(Ahmed Asad / APA images)

"The Obama administration’s announced suspension of some military aid to Egypt is a sham.
Far from actually withdrawing significant US support for the Egyptian military dictatorship that overthrew the country’s elected president on 3 July, the package of measures is designed to reinforce and normalize US cooperation with the coup regime, secure Israel’s interests and US regional hegemony.
It also ensures that Egypt continues to help Israel to maintain the collective punishment of almost 1.7 million Palestinians in Gaza.

Israel lobby pressure

Obama has been under intense pressure from the Israel lobby to maintain US support for the coup regime.
This week, for instance, prominent Israel lobbyist Jeffrey Goldberg appealed to Obama to maintain the aid in order to benefit Israel and prop up Arab client regimes including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan.
Goldberg sees these Arab dictatorships as part of a region-wide sectarian confrontation with Iran, in which the Arab regimes are on the same side as Israel and the United States.
Goldberg was especially anxious that the Gaza siege continue:
Egypt is pressing hard against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, cutting off the flow of weapons and sealing smuggling tunnels. A weak Hamas is in the best interests of the US, Israel and, most important, the rival Palestinian Authority, with which Israel is currently negotiating under US supervision.
But, of course, the siege does not simply ensure a “weak Hamas.” While there’s no evidence any weapons supplies to the resistance have been disrupted, what have been choked are basic supplies for the population and the ability of Gaza students, patients and others to leave what is in effect a giant prison.
The Israeli-Egyptian siege imposes brutal collective punishment on the whole population of Gaza. Goldberg, as a former Israeli prison guard, clearly has no moral problem with this.
Goldberg’s demands are consistent with the messaging that has come from Israel and its lobby since the first day of the coup in Egypt.
They are also consistent with broader US “core interests” outlined by Obama in his UN speech of maintaining US regional hegemony and dominance, which means ensuring the existence of client regimes like Egypt’s.

Obama administration explains

On 9 October, the State Department released the transcript of a conference call between reporters and five unnamed senior US officials explaining Obama’s measures toward Egypt.
The officials explain that the measures will include delaying the deliveries of some major weapons systems, including Apache helicopters, Harpoon missiles and parts for M1A1 tanks.
They also include suspending direct cash assistance – about $260 million annually – to the “interim government.”
But a close reading of the 5,800-word transcript makes clear that the aid suspension is merely symbolic.
Most forms of US military support for the Egyptian army will continue and there’s no reason to believe the coup regime will be affected by the announced measures.
I will excerpt some of the key passages that indicate just how hollow and cyncial Obama’s move is.

Critical of Morsi but not of massacres

It is notable that the Obama administration is still far more critical of Egypt’s deposed elected president Muhammad Morsi than it is of the military regime.
“Senior Administration Official Number One” repeatedly criticized Morsi, effectively providing justifications for the coup. For example:
Now since then, we recognize, and the President [Obama] noted this in his remarks to the General Assembly a couple of weeks ago, that Muhammad Morsi was democratically elected, but he proved unwilling or unable to govern in a way that was fully inclusive.
But look how the same official characterizes the actions of the military regime headed by General Abdulfattah al-Sisi and fronted by a puppet civilian “interim government”:
Now since then, the interim government that replaced him [Morsi] last summer, we recognized had the support of millions of Egyptians who believed that that revolution had taken a wrong turn. But we think that it too has made decisions inconsistent with inclusive democracy, which sort of leads us to where we are now.
First, the Obama administration still seems attached to the dubious claim that the coup had the support of “millions.”
Is this based on anything other than fabricated and unrealistic crowd figures?
But more important at this moment: think about the phrase “decisions inconsistent with inclusive democracy.”
In fact, what the coup regime has done in Egypt since 3 July is perpetrate repeated massacres of unarmed civilians unprecedented in Egyptian history, leaving thousands dead and injured. The most recent massacre of more than 50 people occurred on 6 October.
The coup regime has carried out a brutal political crackdown, pursuing and arresting thousands of people for their political views or perceived political views.
None of this is mentioned by the US officials.

It’s still not a “coup”

“Senior Administration Official Number One” was also careful to emphasize that: “Nothing has changed in terms of approaching what you called the coup restriction.”
The Obama administration still “didn’t make a determination, haven’t made a determination, don’t think we need to make a determination, are acting consistent with the provisions of the law and we’ll continue to do so.”
US law requires that military assistance to a foreign country be suspended when a “coup” takes place in that country. By refusing to call what happened a coup, the Obama administration aims to get around the law and ensure that it can continue to support the Egyptian dictatorship.

Obama loves Sisi

So there’s no mention of the Egypt coup regime’s massacres or mass arrests – unless we consider these to be covered by the absurd euphemism “decisions inconsistent with inclusive democracy.”
And it’s still not a coup. But also, check out the ongoing love affair the US has with Egyptian coup leader al-Sisi and his clique.
Here’s how “Senior Administration Official Number Three” characterized US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s telephone conversation with al-Sisi:
It was very friendly. In fact, Secretary Hagel noted that he had spoken with Minister al-Sisi more than any of his other counterparts, actually. I think they’ve spoken with each other over twenty times in the last several months. And he said they’ve done so for a reason. It underscores the importance of the US-Egypt relationship. And Secretary Hagel stressed the long history and friendship between the United States and the Egyptian people, and Minister al-Sisi concurred and affirmed that as well.
These are not just formalities. As the same official stressed, the US would be doing nothing to freeze out al-Sisi and his clique:
General al-Sisi, as many of you know, is himself a graduate of the Army War College. And this week, right now in the United States, there are Egyptian military officers in classrooms, receiving training about counterterrorism, meeting shared security objectives, and really building those relationships that have been maintained for generations. And that will continue. And that was really the spirit of their call, that the ongoing important parts of the relationship are going on, and both Minister al-Sisi and Secretary Hagel committed to taking steps to continue that.
US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt famously said of Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza in 1939, “Somoza may be a son of a bitch, but he’s our son of a bitch.”
The same logic clearly applies to al-Sisi and his accomplices in the massacres and arrests of thousands of Egyptians.

A slap on the wrist

Naturally, in keeping with this warm relationship, a careful reading of the transcript indicates that Obama’s measures amount to no more than a slap on the wrist.
For one thing, Senior Administration Official Number One had difficulty putting a dollar value on the supposed sanctions in response to reporters’ questions:
That actually does make it difficult -– and others will comment on this -– to give you specific answers on the numbers, because it’s not as if there’s some finite thing that has been stopped necessarily forever.
The official also assured that US “contractors” – the people who make and deliver the weapons, training and spare parts to the Egyptian military – will continue to be paid.
Another official was at pains to emphasize that “I think what we’re trying to make clear is this is not meant to be permanent…you’ll notice that it’s not being presented or announced in terms of definitive ends to any specific programs.”
That official also stressed that the measures “weren’t suggested or recommended in a punitive way or anything like that.”
Yes we noticed.

Aid to Egypt is aid to Israel

Throughout the transcript, the US officials emphasized that what will not be affected – even temporarily or symbolically – is the aid that helps the Egyptian coup regime besiege Gaza:
Secretary Hagel emphasized how important the US-Egypt relationship was to the stability and security for Egypt, but for the United States as well and the broader Middle East. And Secretary Hagel made the key point that the US-Egyptian security relationship and assistance relationship is continuing, and made the point, as Senior Administration Official Two said, that we are continuing to provide assistance on the issues that advance both our vital security objectives. That includes countering terrorism, countering proliferation, border security, ensuring security in the Sinai, working with peace with Israel, and includes things that include also spare parts, replacement parts, along those lines.
This was repeated:
first was to make sure that we were continuing the things that were immediately needed for the goals we talked about – counterterrorism, Sinai, borders, the peace treaty, and keeping the peace with Israel.

What matters to US is not the welfare of Egyptians

Last weekend I was a participant in the Istanbul World Forum meeting focusing on the coup in Egypt and its regional consequences, organized by Turkey’s SETA Foundation.
It was a rich set of discussions, but I want to emphasize two points, one I made myself and one made by other participants.
My own point: the only red line in US-Egyptian relations is maintaining the Camp David treaty with Israel and assuring Egypt’s ability to act as a security subcontractor for Israel.
Everything else – especially the lives, welfare and freedoms of Egyptians and consequently Palestinians besieged in Gaza – is subordinate. The Obama administration announcement about aid to Egypt clearly supports this view.
Secondly, a point made by several participants: the actual “security” situation in Sinai and along the border with Gaza does not justify by any stretch the Egyptian coup regime’s war footing in Sinai and against Palestinians in Gaza. Indeed the regime’s actions are fueling violence and disorder.
Rather, Sinai is being used as a pretext to justify the coup regime’s bloody crackdown and to incite the Egyptian population against supposed “foreign” enemies – Palestinians, Syrians and even Egypt’s own Muslim Brotherhood – while the regime consolidates itself in power.
Therefore, US insistence on playing along with the Sinai narrative helps the regime and does nothing to advance the supposed US goal of restoring democracy in Egypt.
That, after all, might well be the intent."

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

Do you believe that military rule will achieve security and stability in Egypt?

With about 900 responding so far, 88% said no.

Special Report: The real force behind Egypt's 'revolution of the state'

"(Reuters) - In Hosni Mubarak's final days in office in 2011, the world's gaze focused on Cairo, where hundreds of thousands of protesters demanded the resignation of one of the Arab world's longest serving autocrats.
Little attention was paid when a group of Muslim Brotherhood leaders broke free from their cells in a prison in the far off Wadi el-Natroun desert. But the incident, which triggered a series of prison breaks by members of the Islamist group around the country, caused panic among police officers fast losing their grip on Egypt.
One officer pleaded with his comrades for help as his police station was torched. "I am faced with more than 2,000 people and I am dealing with them alone in Dar al Salam, please hurry," the policeman radioed to colleagues as trouble spread. "Now they have machine guns, the youth are firing machine guns at me, send me reinforcements."
In all, 200 policemen and security officers were killed that day, Jan 28, called the Friday of Rage by anti-Mubarak demonstrators. Some had their throats slit. One of the Muslim Brotherhood leaders to escape was Mohamed Mursi, who would become president the following year.
Egypt's Interior Ministry, which controls all of the country's police forces including state security and riot police, never forgot the chaos. In particular the Wadi el-Natroun prison break became a powerful symbol inside the security apparatus of its lost power. Officers swore revenge on the Brotherhood and Mursi, according to security officials.
When army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi appeared on television in July this year to announce the end of Mursi's presidency and plans for elections, it was widely assumed that Egypt's military leaders were the prime movers behind the country's counter revolution. But dozens of interviews with officials from the army, state security and police, as well as diplomats and politicians, show the Interior Ministry was the key force behind removing Egypt's first democratically elected president.
Senior officials in the Interior Ministry's General Intelligence Service identified young activists unhappy with Mursi's rule, according to four Interior Ministry sources, who like most people interviewed for this story, asked to remain anonymous. The intelligence officials met with the activists, who told them they thought the army and Interior Ministry were "handing the country to the Brotherhood."
The intelligence officials advised the activists to take to the streets and challenge Mursi, who many felt had given himself sweeping powers and was mismanaging the economy, allegations he has denied. Six weeks later, a youth movement called Tamarud - "rebellion" in Arabic - began a petition calling for Mursi to step down.
Though that group's leaders were not among the youth who met the intelligence officials, they enjoyed the support of the Interior Ministry, according to the Interior Ministry sources. Ministry officials and police officers helped collect signatures for the petition, helped distribute the petitions, signed the petition themselves, and joined the protests.
"They are Egyptians like us and we were all upset by the Brotherhood and their horrible rule," said a 23-year-old woman in the Tamarud movement who asked not to be named.
For the Interior Ministry, Tamarud offered a chance to avenge Wadi el-Natroun; the reversal of fortunes has been remarkable. The state security force, both feared and despised during Mubarak's 30-year rule, has not only regained control of the country two and half years after losing power, but has won broad public support by staging one of the fiercest crackdowns on the Muslim Brotherhood in years.
The interior minister openly speaks of restoring the kind of security seen under Mubarak. A renewed confidence permeates the police force, whose reputation for brutality helped fuel the 2011 uprising. Egyptians now lionize the police. Television stations praise the Interior Ministry and the army, depicting them as heroes and saviors of the country.
The Interior Ministry's most dreaded unit, the Political Security Unit, has been revived to deal with the Brotherhood. Under Mubarak, officers in that department were notorious for treating citizens with a heavy hand and intruding into their lives. When activists broke into the agency's premises shortly after Mubarak was forced to quit on February 11, 2011, they found and posted online documents, videos and pictures of what they described as a torture chamber with a blood-stained floor and equipped with chains.
The interior ministry has apologized for "violations" in the past and has said they will not be repeated.
Key to the turnaround has been the Interior Ministry's ability to forge much closer ties to the army, the most powerful and respected institution in Egypt. It was a tactic that began almost as soon as Mubarak stepped down.
Weeks after Mubarak was overthrown, the Interior Ministry called a meeting at the police academy in Cairo. The gathering, headed by the interior minister and senior security officials, was the first in a series that discussed how to handle the Brotherhood, according to two policemen who attended some of the gatherings.
Thousands of mid- and lower-ranking officers were angry and said they could not serve under a president they regarded as a terrorist. Senior officers tried to calm them, arguing that the men needed to wait for the right moment to move against Mursi. "We tried to reassure them but the message did not get through," said a senior police official. "They just fumed silently."
The senior state security officer told Reuters there were no explicit orders to disobey Mursi but that a large number of officers decided they would not be "tools" for the Brotherhood.
"I worked during Mursi's time. I never failed to show up at any mission. This included securing his convoys. Yet I never felt I was doing it from the heart," said one major in state security.
"It was hard to feel that you are doing a national job for your country while what you are really doing was securing a terrorist."
Resentment grew when Mursi pardoned 17 Islamist militants held since the 1990s for attacks on soldiers and policemen. One of the militants had killed dozens of policemen in an attack in the Sinai. None of them publicly denied the charges or even commented on them.
Mursi's decision last November to grant himself sweeping powers triggered a wave of public protest. On December 5, protesters rallied in front of the Ittihadiya, the main presidential palace in Cairo. As the crowd grew, Mursi ordered security forces to disperse them. They refused. A senior security officer said there was no explicit order to disobey Mursi but they all acted "according to their conscience."
The Muslim Brotherhood brought in its own forces to try and quell the unrest and Brotherhood supporters tried to hand some protesters to police to be arrested. But the police refused, Brotherhood officials said at the time.
"Do they think the police forgot? Our colleagues are in jail because of the Brotherhood," said a state security officer.
Ten people were killed in the ensuing clashes, most of them Brotherhood supporters. Liberal activists accused Brotherhood members of beating and torturing anti-Mursi protesters.
Mursi miscalculated further by calling off a meeting sought by the army to discuss how to calm the storm, according to two army sources.
"It was a veiled message to stay out of politics, and we got it, as we understood that Mursi was an elected leader and (it) would be hard to defy that," said an army colonel. "But it was clear by then where his rule was driving the state."
In January 2013, Mursi fired Ahmed Gamal, former senior state security officer, as interior minister and replaced him with Mohamed Ibrahim who was the senior-most official with the least exposure to the anti-Brotherhood factions inside the ministry, security sources said. Ibrahim was seen as weaker and more malleable than Gamal, who was blamed by the Brotherhood for not acting harshly enough against anti-Mursi protests.
But appointing Ibrahim, who was previously an assistant to the interior minister for prison affairs, proved to be a costly mistake. He moved to get close to the army, attending events to establish direct contact with army chief Sisi and regularly complimenting the general on his management techniques, said the police major.
Sisi had served as head of military intelligence under Mubarak. He was known to be religious and had the charisma to inspire younger army officers. Mursi believed those younger officers posed less of a threat than the old generals who had served under Mubarak and whom he fired in August 2012, two months after he took office.
But the country's police chiefs had one message for the military: The Brotherhood is bad news.
"We are in constant fights on the streets. This made us tougher than the army and ruthless," said the police major. "We don't understand the language of negotiating with terrorists. We wanted to handle them from day one."
Ibrahim rejected requests by Reuters for an interview and would not answer questions sent by email. Sisi could not be reached for comment.
By early 2013, army officers and Interior Ministry officials had begun meeting in the military's lavish social and sports clubs, some of which overlook the Nile. Over lunch or steak dinners, officials would discuss the Brotherhood and Egypt's future, according to senior state security officers and army officers who took part in the meetings.
The Interior Ministry argued that the Brotherhood was a threat to national security and had to go, according to one senior security officer. In the 1990s, during the Interior Ministry's battle with the Muslim Brotherhood, the ministry had referred to all Islamists as terrorists. It urged the army to adopt the same terminology.
"I have gone to some of those meetings with the army and we spoke a lot about the Muslim Brotherhood. We had more experience with them then the army. We shared those experiences and the army became more and more convinced that those people have to go and are bad for Egypt," the senior security officer said.
"The army like many people who have not dealt directly with the Brotherhood and seen their dirtiness wanted to believe that they have something to offer to Egypt. But for us it was a waste of time."
Officials in the Interior Ministry warned the military that Mursi's maneuverings were merely a way to shore up his power. The Muslim Brotherhood, they told their army colleagues, was more interested in creating an Islamic caliphate across the region than serving Egypt.
"The Brotherhood have a problem with the Egyptian state," said the state security officer. "I am certain that Mursi came to implement the plan of the Brotherhood ... They don't believe in the nation of Egypt to begin with."
Over time, middle-ranking Interior Ministry officers became more vocal with the military. The message got through at the highest level. Early this year, army chief Sisi warned Mursi that his government would not last.
"I told Mursi in February you failed and your project is finished," Sisi was quoted as saying in an interview published this month in the newspaper al-Masry al-Youm.
Interior Ministry officials believed that the Brotherhood planned to restructure the ministry, one state security officer said. Concerned officials discussed the issue in a private meeting in the parliament. One option was the cancellation of the police academy. Many saw that as a threat to their institution and careers.
"The news became known to young officers. This action is against the interest of the officers. He was fighting their future," said the state security officer.
Muslim Brotherhood officials have denied plotting against the Interior Ministry and say there were no plans to dismantle the police academy. They have previously accused Interior Ministry officials of working to undermine the government, refusing to protect Brotherhood leaders, and trying to turn the public against the group's rule.
"We cooperated with the Interior Ministry all along. We never had plans to undermine it or the police academy. It was the Interior Ministry that refused to work with us," said Brotherhood official Kamal Fahim. "All along they resisted us and tried to turn Egyptians against us."
Pressure from the Interior Ministry on Sisi and the military grew, helped by the emergence in May of the Tamarud.
At first the group was not taken seriously. But as it gathered signatures, Egyptians who had lost faith in Mursi took notice, including Interior Ministry officials. Some of those officials and police officers helped collect signatures and joined the protests.
"Of course we joined and helped the movement, as we are Egyptians like them and everyone else. Everyone saw that the whole Mursi phenomena is not working for Egypt and everyone from his place did what they can to remove this man and group," said a security official.
"The only difference was that the police and state security saw the end right from the start but the rest of the Egyptians did not and had to experience one year of their failed rule to agree with us."
On June 15, the Interior Ministry held a meeting of 3,000 officers, including generals and lieutenants, at its social club in the Medinat Nasr district of Cairo to discuss the death of a police officer killed by militants in Sinai. Islamist militancy in Sinai, mainly targeting police and army officers, had risen sharply after Mursi's election.
Some at the meeting blamed "terrorist elements ... released by Mohamed Mursi," said the state security officer.
Police officers started chanting "Down, down with the rule of the General Guide," a reference to Muslim Brotherhood General Guide Mohamed Badie, now in jail on charges of inciting violence during the Ittihadiya protests.
On June 30 - the anniversary of Mursi's first year in office - angry Interior Ministry officers joined Tamarud members and millions of other Egyptians to demand the president's resignation. Four days later, Sisi appeared on television and announced what amounted to a military takeover. Some security officials called the move "the revolution of the state."
For weeks after Mursi's overthrow, Western officials tried to persuade Sisi to refrain from using force to break up Brotherhood protest camps in Cairo. But the hardline Interior Ministry, which had quickly regained its old swagger, pressed for a crackdown. Police officials argued that Brotherhood members had weapons.
"For us, negotiations were a waste of time," said the state security major. "We know what was coming: terrorism. And now after this horrible experience I think everyone learned a lesson and appreciates us and that we were right about those people."
Early on the morning of August 14 policemen in black uniforms and hoods stormed the Rabaa al-Adawiya camp, one of two main vigils of Brotherhood supporters in Cairo.
The police ignored a plan by the army-backed cabinet to issue warnings and use water cannons to disperse protesters, instead using teargas, bullets and bulldozers. Hundreds died there and many more died in clashes that erupted across the country after the raid.
Army officers later asked the police why the death toll was so high, according to a military source. The interior minister said his forces were fired on first.
"It is one thing for decisions to be taken by officials in suits and sitting in air-conditioned rooms," said a state security officer in charge of some top Brotherhood cases. "But we as troops on the ground knew that this decision can never be implemented when dealing with anything related to this terrorist organization. Force had to be used and that can never be avoided with those people."
Despite the use of force and the deaths, liberal Egyptians who had risen up against Mubarak seemed sanguine.
The liberal National Salvation Front (NSF) alliance praised the actions of security forces. "Today Egypt raised its head up high," said the NSF in a statement after the raid. "The National Salvation Front salutes the police and army forces."
Two years after the Wadi el-Natroun prison break, the Interior Ministry had power again. It announced it would use live ammunition when dealing with protesters it accused of "scaring citizens." Trucks used by the once-dreaded anti-riot security forces now have signs on them which read "The People's Police."
The government has jailed the Brotherhood's top leaders in a bid to crush Egypt's oldest Islamist movement. Muslim Brotherhood officials now face trial in connection with the Ittihadiya protests.
Senior security officers say their suspicions about the Brotherhood were confirmed in documents they found when they raided the group's headquarters. The documents suggested that Mursi planned to dismantle the army under the guise of restructuring, they said. One of the documents, which a state security officer showed to Reuters, calls for the building of an Islamic state "in any eligible spot."
Muslim Brotherhood leaders could not be reached to comment on this document because most of them are either in jail or hiding.
Police officials say they no longer abuse Egyptians and have learned from their mistakes under Mubarak. But not everyone is buying that line.
Muslim Brotherhood leader Murad Ali, who was recently imprisoned, wrote in a letter smuggled out of prison and seen by Reuters that he was put in a foul-smelling, darkened cell on death row and forced to sleep on a concrete floor. Lawyers for other Brotherhood members say prisoners are crammed into small cells and face psychological abuse. One elderly Brotherhood prisoner said guards shaved his head and brought vicious dogs around to scare him, inmates near his cell told Reuters.
There were no complaints of the type of whipping or electrocution seen in Mubarak's days. But Brotherhood members say the current crackdown is more intense. "The pressure never subsides. None of my Brotherhood colleagues sleep at the same place for too long and neither do I," said Waleed Ali, a lawyer who acts for the Brotherhood."

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Founding Mothers of Ashkenazi Jews May Be Converts, Study Finds


"About 80 percent of Ashkenazi maternal ancestry comes from Europe, not the Near East, according to a study that suggests a mass conversion of women to Judaism may have occurred in Europe more than 2,000 years ago.
The findings come from studying mitochondrial DNA, which passes from mother to offspring, in about 3,500 people, the authors wrote in a paper in the journal Nature Communications. About 80 percent of the maternal linages of Ashkenazi Jews came from Europe, the scientists found.
The Ashkenazi are the most common Jewish ethnic division. Previous efforts to trace origins of Ashkenazi Jews have been spotty and controversial, the authors wrote. The latest research used a larger database than in previous attempts, allowing them to unravel the entire mitochondrial genomes.
“A detailed genealogical history for every maternal lineage in the Ashkenazim is now within reach,” wrote the authors, led by Gil Atzmon of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. “In fact, it should soon be possible to reconstruct the outlines of the entire dispersal history of each community.”
The four major female founders of the Ashkenazi show roots in Europe 10,000 to 20,000 years ago. So do most of the minor founders, the study found. Only 8 percent of the mitochondrial DNA shows signs of being from the Near East.
There had been some evidence of mass conversions, especially of women, to Judaism throughout the Mediterranean in the past, the authors wrote in the study. That resulted in about 6 million citizens, or a tenth of the Roman population, who were Jewish. "

Egypt: from bad to worse

Try as he might, General Sisi cannot contain the continued protest against his takeover

The Guardian,

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

After his latest declarations, do you believe that Sisi has revealed his intentions to become a candidate for president of Egypt?

With over 500 responding so far, 93% said yes.

Egypt: Christians scapegoated after dispersal of pro-Morsi sit-ins

"A detailed report into the attacks targeting Coptic Christian communities in August reveals the extent of the failure of the security services to protect the minority group, said Amnesty International.

The new report published today examines events during the unprecedented wave of sectarian attacks in the wake of the dispersal of two pro-Morsi sit-ins in Cairo on 14 August.
It details how security forces failed to prevent angry mobs attacks on Christian churches, schools and charity buildings, setting them ablaze and razing some to the ground. At least four people were killed.

“It is deeply disturbing that the Christian community across Egypt was singled out for revenge attacks over the events in Cairo by some supporters of the deposed president, Mohamed Morsi,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
“In light of previous attacks, particularly since Morsi’s outsing on 3 July, a backlash against Coptic Christians should have been anticipated, yet security forces failed to prevent attacks or intervene to put an end to the violence.”......"

From Azmi Bishara's Facebook Page

إعادة تأهيل؟

"كتبنا سابقا أن ما يهم الولايات المتحدة وإسرائيل في سورية أمران: السلاح الكيميائي، والفوضى التي تحمل معها "الإرهاب الإسلامي". أما معاناة الشعب السوري، بما في ذلك من استخدام السلاح الكيماوي فلا تعنيهم فعلا.
لقد سلم النظام السوري السلاح الكيميائي بنجاعة وحماس لدرجة استحق معها إشادة أميركية. أما الإرهاب الإسلامي فالنظام يقدم نفسه في الغرب منذ ما قبل الثورة على أنه أفضل حليف في الصراع ض...
ده، وأنه حاربه قبل أن يفطن إليه الغرب. هذا كان خطابه في الغرب خلافا لطريقة تقديم نفسه على الساحة العربية قبل الثورة. وحينما كان النظام يدعم الجهاديين في العراق إنما كان يفعل ذلك ليفهم الغرب أنهم خطر، وأنه القادر على محاربة هذا الخطر.
فلا يستغربن أحد إذا جرت علمية إعادة تأهيل للأسد بعد أن سلم السلاح الكيماوي بصفته قادرا على الوقوف في وجه "الإرهاب الإسلامي".
ولا يمكن إفشال ما يجري والتخلص من الاستبداد إذا لم تدرك قوى الثورة السورية ما يلي: 1. أنه لا بد من تغيير موازين القوى على الأرض بتنظيم نفسها فعليا خلف استراتيجية قتالية موحدة، فالنظام ضعيف ولكنه قوته تنبع أساسا من الفوضى التي تشوب العمل المسلح، ومما ترتكبه تلك القوى "الجهادية" غير المنضوية تحت أهداف الثورة، التي تزوده بحجة وجوده، 2. أن عليها ان تطرح بديلا ديمقراطيا سياسيا قويا للنظام. 3. أن عليها أن تخاطب الرأي العام العربي والغربي كثورة ضد الاستبداد، وليس كأي شيء آخر.