Saturday, December 15, 2012

Live Updates: Egypt votes in disputed constitution referendum

After three weeks of political turmoil which saw nation-wide rallies against President Morsi and fatal clashes between rival protest groups, 10 governorates vote on controversial national charter in referendum first round

Ahram Online

Bel Trew, Salma Shukrallah, Yasmine Fathy, Saturday 15 Dec 2012

Censorship of Egypt activist Shahenda Maklad, MB style, by Carlos Latuff

Friday, December 14, 2012

Constitutional Poll Polarises Egypt

"This Saturday, Egyptians will head to the polls to vote on a controversial draft constitution. The referendum has divided this nation – still pulsing with the revolutionary fervour that toppled former dictator Hosni Mubarak in early 2011 - with most Islamist parties and groups supporting the proposed national charter, while liberal, leftist and 'revolutionary' groups, in addition to Egypt's sizable pro-Mubarak demographic, are opposed to it......"

How Islamist is Egypt's would-be constitution?

Ahram Online takes a closer look at the role of Islamic Sharia law in Egypt's draft constitution and its possible implications

Ahram Online, Friday 14 Dec 2012

".....Al-Azhar's new constitutional role in legislation
Although Article 2 of the 1971 constitution, which says the principles of Sharia are the primary source of legislation, remained intact in the draft constitution, two new articles have been added to emphasise the role of Sharia in legislation.
Article 219 (defines the aspects of Sharia on which laws will be based) and Article 4 (states the supreme scholars committee of Al-Azhar, the country's highest Islamic institution, should be consulted on all matters relating to Sharia) gives a religious institution the right to meddle in the law-making process, according to legal expert Hisham Nasr......

Salafist influence: Obstacle to general freedoms?
Salafists, ultra-conservative allies of the Muslim Brotherhood, have also attempted to further stamp the mark of Islamists on the constitution.

Preacher Yasser El-Borhami, who was a member of the Constituent Assembly, says the Salafists successfully managed to modify three articles.

"There was an article in [the 1971] constitution stating no punishment without a legal text. But we objected to this article and were able to change it to ‘no punishment without a legal or constitutional text’ because if it had remained in the original format, consensual adultery, homosexuality, and usury would not be punished, as they are currently not prohibited by law," he said during a seminar in late November.
He also gave credit to Salafists for altering Article 76, which was referred to in a Brotherhood statement promoting the draft constitution in October.
"For the aim of protecting society, the draft states that no punishment will be carried out unless there is a crime, after verifying all proof of the crime. This will prepare society to understand and accept Sharia and lead to the gradual implementation of Sharia," the statement said.

Ezzat says this article opens the door for unjust punishments: "According to the new format of Article 76, a citizen can be put on trial without a specific law or stating the penalty for crime he is accused of, as now you can directly refer to Sharia for the penalty."......"

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

Do you agree with the statement of Mr. Khatib that the Syrian people now are in no need for the intervention of outside (international) forces to topple Assad?

With over 700 responding so far, 90% said yes.

Real News Video: US Tries to Control Outcome of Syrian Conflict; Russia Might Back Off Support for Assad

Vijay Prashad: US recognizes Syrian National Coalition as Russia says Assad may have to step down 

More at The Real News

Syrian humanitarian disaster looms as internal refugees face bread shortages

With Assad's regime targeting bakeries, displaced families are starving as harsh weather compounds the struggle for food

in Azaz, Syria
The Guardian,
If this were not bad enough, there is overwhelming evidence that the military forces of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad have deliberately targeted bakeries, in what appears to be official policy to starve rebel areas into submission. (It has also hit field hospitals, schools and civilian areas.) The al-Bab factory has been targeted three times; the last time a rocket injured six bakery workers. "We wanted freedom and look what happened. The regime cut everything," Qasab said.

A smaller bakery nearby was still operational: 500 people were waiting outside; each had a number scrawled in ink on their palms. It was unclear when, if at all, bread might emerge, like a minor miracle, from a small factory hatch.

This week, as desperation rises, the first food demonstrations have broken out in rural areas; some have resorted to trying to bake bread at home, with Syria returning to its Ottoman past. The FSA, in effect the government now in much of Syria's countryside, admits that there is little it can do....."

Russia changes tack on Syria

By M K Bhadrakumar 
Asia Times

"Russia is throwing in the towel on Syria after an almost two-year holdout against Western intervention. The Kremlin will have to display some deft diplomacy if it is not now to be shut out of the eastern Mediterranean. Its cards include probable knowledge of where to find Syria's chemical weapons, and concern shared with the US of post-Assad stability.....

All in all, therefore, it is highly probable that Washington will terminate the Russian naval presence in Tartus in the post-Assad phase, and may think of evicting Russia altogether from the Eastern Mediterranean. The US is already blocking Russia's bid to join hands with Israel in developing the massive Leviathan gas fields.

In any case, Turkey also wants Russia out of the Eastern Mediterranean. Thus, regime change in Syria becomes a serious strategic setback for Russia. No doubt, Moscow's ability to influence the historic transformation of the Middle East has been seriously impaired. "

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Syria: Russian writing on the wall

If there was any writing on the wall that the Assad government never wanted to see, it was writing in Russian

The Guardian,

"If there was any writing on the wall that the Assad government never wanted to see, it was writing in Russian. Let the Americans fume, the British sigh, the Turks expostulate and the French deplore, Damascus seemed to think, as long as the Russians stayed faithful.
True, the Russians have on a number of occasions said they were not wedded to the Assad regime, but they have nevertheless been by far the most important of Syria's outside supporters. On Thursday Mikhail Bogdanov, the Russian deputy foreign minister, said what would have been unthinkable even a couple of months ago – that it was entirely conceivable that the rebels would win.
He underlined this by saying that Moscow was already preparing plans to evacuate its citizens. He did not say that a rebel victory was desirable. Indeed, he said that such a victory could come only after much further bloodshed, the main responsibility for which would lie with the rebels and their western and Arab backers. But he nevertheless implied that a rebel victory was not only possible but likely. Bogdanov's plain words will jolt the Syrian regime at a time when its military hold is slipping. The Russian perception is shared by Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the Nato secretary general, who said in Brussels on Thursday that he believed the Syrian government was approaching collapse.......

The problem for the government in Damascus has always been that, having chosen the path of repression rather than that of negotiation, it could only exert its military advantage over its relatively poorly armed opponents by using heavier and heavier weapons. Each such escalation, unavoidably indiscriminate, alienates more people, even when civilians also blame the fighters for bringing death down on their heads. First, it was artillery, then bombers, and now, it was alleged on Thursday, ground-to-ground missiles. The Scuds said to have been used are particularly imprecise.....

The final, and most vicious, escalation would be the use of the chemical weapons the Syrian government possesses. This is a red line that the Syrian government itself has said it will not cross and, in any case, the use of  chemical weapons would be bound to affect its own troops and supporters as well as its enemies.
Nevertheless the Americans have said their surveillance suggests the recent movement of some of these weapons. The United States may in truth be more concerned about such weapons in a post-Assad era than it is about them now. If they were deployed, let alone used, it would be a clear signal that the Assad government was in its final desperate moments, moments when, perhaps, the departure of senior figures might be negotiated. That is a point not yet reached, and it is right to remember that the regime has been written off too casually before. But it is a merciful fact that wars must end, and the end of this one may be closer than we think."

حول من يعتقد أنه قوي وأن التعددية ضعف

By Azmi Bishara

حول من يعتقد أنه قوي وأن التعددية ضعف
13 ديسمبر 2012
ترى بعض الدول العربية ان التعددية في الدول التي نشبت فيها الثورات هي مناسبة للتأثير على سياسات الدول الأخرى الداخلية. ومن ذلك استغلال مخاض المرحلة الانتقالية الضروري كما يبدو من أجل العمل لإحداث الفوضى في هذه الدول. وعندها تبدو الثورات كحالة من الفوضى. هكذا استغلت الدول التعددية الطائفية\السياسية اللبنانية وحولت ذلك البلد الى ما نعرف. ولكن التعددية في مصر وتو نس هي تعددية سياسية صحية ومشروعة وليس تعددية طائفية.

والخلافات الدستورية الحالية والخلاف على كيفية حلها هي مدرسة للدول الأخرى. وهي تعددية لم تستقر بعد على احترام قواعد ديمقراطية متفق عليها. ولكنها سوف تستقر بعد هذا المخاض. وعندها سوف ترى الدول التي تحاول العبث الآن في مصر وتونس ، ان انعدام التعددية فيها وما يبدو استقرارا ليس مصدر قوة، وأنه يشبه استقرار أنظمة بن علي ومبارك."

Gameela Ismail condemns Brotherhood propaganda, calls them “killers”

By Joseph Mayton
Bikya Masr

(Cartoon by Carlos Latuff)

"CAIRO: Leading Egyptian politician and television host Gameela Ismail lashed out at the Muslim Brotherhood’s English language media service Ikhwanweb after they sent out condolences for a journalist slain in last Wednesday’s violent clashes near the presidential palace.

Ikhwanweb wrote that they wish to give condolences to al-Fagr journalist El-Housseiny Abou Deif, who was shot in the head – investigations and activists report Brotherhood supporters to be the culprits – and succumbed to those injuries on Wednesday.

Ismail angrily fought back to what has become a daily barrage of propaganda and misinformation being published by Ikhwanweb, saying, “Don’t you DARE mention Abo Deif’s name! Killing him and paying condolences?! KILLERS YOU ARE.

The Brotherhood then replied directly to Ismail, saying that “maybe u shld show sympathy to the other 10 MB victims, they’re all Egyptians. Shots killed Hussini were fired frm oppos side.”

Almost all independent investigations into the events of the palace clashes have revealed that the Brotherhood supporters were seen wielding numerous weapons and guns.

Ikhwanweb claims that those killed during the violence, which began after Brotherhood and Morsi supporters violently attacked a peaceful sit-in by activists at the palace.

At least 11 people were killed in the violence that lasted in Thursday morning last. Most of those killed were opposition activists, however, the Brotherhood has attempted to claim all the victims as their own, including a Christian man....."

Al-Jazeera Video: Syria: Refugees forced to return to war-torn country

"Syrian refugees are risking their lives and returning to the country from refugee camps in Jordan. They tell Al Jazeera that they cannot bear the terrible living conditions in these refugee camps."

Al-Jazeera Video: US analyst: Syria scud missiles 'a profound escalation'

"Human Rights Watch has reported that the Syrian government has been using incendiary scud missiles against the opposition in the north of the country.

The missiles contain highly flammable materials designed to cause severe burns.

Speaking to Al Jazeera from Washington, Mark Perry, military and foreign affairs analyst, says the reports are "credible", but the use of the unmanned missiles is a "very desperate measure" by the forces of Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president.

Perry, author of "Talking to Terrorists: Why America Must Engage with its Enemies", tells Al Jazeera's Tony Harris that the use of the missiles may be a sign that the Assad forces "are up against a wall" and running out of pilots or helicopters with which to fire back at the armed opposition.

"If we want Assad overthrown, and we do, we're going to have to make the difficult choice of just saying 'let's do it'," he told Al Jazeera."

Al-Jazeera Video: ما وراء الخبر- اجتماع مجموعة أصدقاء سوريا في مراكش

Real News Video (with Transcript): Qatari Aid Moves Hamas Away From Iran into "Moderate" Camp

The democratically elected movement of Hamas which has been boycotted by the Israel and the west since 2006, has now moved into the moderate camp, thanks to the US's Arab allay in the region " Qatar", some believe that a deal was struck to help Hamas ruled Gaza out of its isolation in return to decouple it from Iran and the resistance camp 

More at The Real News

The Best Part Starts at 4:17 on the Video. It is the Analysis of Professor Haidar Eid. I Respect Him a Lot!

Sources: Syrian Rebels Training On Anti-Aircraft Weapons In Jordan

"The U.S. has now formally recognized a new Syrian opposition group as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people. But the U.S. has repeatedly declined to provide weapons for rebels fighting President Bashar Assad's army.

However, NPR has learned that there are movements behind the scenes. In Jordan, several Syrian sources said that Jordanian authorities, along with their U.S. and British counterparts, have organized training for Syrian rebels on sophisticated anti-aircraft weapons.

The Syrian sources would not identify the weapons or where they came from, but they indicated they were the kind of arms that could have a dramatic impact in the fight against Assad's military......"

Syrian opposition says no longer needs foreign forces

"(Reuters) - The Syrian people no longer need the intervention of international forces as rebels push towards the heart of the capital of Damascus to topple President Bashar al-Assad, the new leader of Syria's opposition told Reuters.
Mouaz al-Khatib, the scion of a Damascene Muslim religious dynasty, said the opposition would consider proposals from Assad to surrender power and leave the country, but would not give any assurances until it saw a firm proposal.
Flanked by bodyguards, al-Khatib was speaking to Reuters on Wednesday night after a meeting of Western and Arab nations with the Syrian opposition in the Moroccan city of Marrakech.
"The horrific conditions which the Syrian people endured prompted them to call on the international community for military intervention at various times", al-Khatib said.
"Now the Syrian people have nothing to lose. They handled their problems by themselves. They no longer need international forces to protect them. The international community has been in a slumber, silent and late (to react) as it saw the Syrian people bleeding and their children killed for the past 20 months," the eloquent, soft-spoken opposition leader said.
On Assad, he said: "I only hope that he knows that he has no role in Syria or in the lives of the Syrian people. The best thing is that he steps down and stops drinking the blood of the Syrian people."......."

Syria conflict: Assad fires Scuds - live updates

The Guardian


Scud missiles

Syria watcher Joshua Landis says the use of Scud missiles in Syria is a sign of desperation by the Assad regime.
Speaking to the BBC World Service he said:
We have seen Assad using some very unorthodox weapons recently. He has been dumping barrel bombs made up of TNT and nails out of helicopters. He has been dumping land mines and sea mines, that are supposed to be used in water, out of helicopters. This would seem to indicate that he is getting to the end of his weaponry and using scuds instead of planes and bombs is an act of desperation as much as it is of strength.
But Landis cautions against those who see these as the final days of the Assad regime. Speaking to Syria Deeply earlier this week he said....."

Russia admits Assad may be ousted by Syrian opposition

Kremlin acknowledges Assad is losing control of the country but laments 'bloody price' that must be paid for president to go,

"Russia has acknowledged for the first time that the regime of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad is losing control of the country.

"One must look the facts in the face: the tendency is that the regime and government of Syria is losing more and more control and more and more territory," Mikhail Bogdanov, Russia's deputy foreign minister, said on Thursday, Russian news agencies reported. "Unfortunately, the victory of the Syrian opposition cannot be ruled out."

"Today we are dealing with issues of preparing an evacuation – we have a mobilisation plan, we are figuring out where our citizens are," he said. An estimated 5,300 Russian citizens live in Syria.

Bogdanov's statement was the first time a Russian official has publicly considered the possibility of an opposition victory in the conflict, which is estimated to have killed more than 40,000 people. Russia has stood by Assad, providing his regime with weapons and repeatedly blocking UN actions despite an international outcry......"

Army out of the barracks back on the streets

Amnesty International

"President Mohamed Morsi decision to give the army new policing powers has raised new concerns about Egypt’s future, raked up painful memories of the past.
In protests around the Presidential Palace on Friday, we saw tanks and armoured vehicles belonging to the Presidential Guard parked in the streets.
Protesters were climbing on them and taking pictures. A few fearless parents even let their children climb on them, posing with the soldiers.
The scenes were eerily reminiscent of the days after the “25 January Revolution”, when many welcomed the army on the streets after the 18 days of mass protests that ended the rule of Hosni Mubarak.
But the military ruled with an iron fist; more than 120 protesters were killed in demonstrations and in excess of 12,000 civilians were tried unfairly by military courts.
And it was clear on Friday that many found the reappearance of the army deeply unsettling.
“Remember Maspero?” cried one woman in the crowd, referring to the army’s suppression of a protest by Coptic Christians in October 2011 in which 27 were killed.
She began to chant slogans against the army.
Many are still waiting for truth and justice for the 17 bloody months of army rule that ended in June.
But the announcement the army will have policing powers until the results of a constitutional referendum are published may also pave the way for new abuses......."

Egypt: ‘Outrageous’ guilty verdict in blasphemy case an assault on free expression

Amnesty International

12 December 2012

"An Egyptian activist has been sentenced to three years in prison after being found guilty of “defamation of religion”, a conviction Amnesty International called an outrageous assault on freedom of expression.

The court in Cairo found Alber Saber Ayad, a 27-year-old computer science graduate and activist, guilty of disseminating material on the internet that defamed religions.

He is expected to be released on a bail of EG£1,000 (US$160) on Thursday 13 December pending his appeal. Amnesty International considered him to be a prisoner of conscience detained solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression, and had called for his immediate and unconditional release.

This is an outrageous verdict and sentence for a person whose only ‘crime’ was to post his opinions online,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

“This conviction will ruin his life, whether he serves the sentence or not. The court should have thrown the case out on the first day, yet now he’s been branded as having insulted religion.”

Alber Saber Ayad was arrested at his home in Cairo on 13 September 2012, after angry groups of men surrounded his house and called for his death, accusing him of heresy and atheism and of promoting Innocence of Muslims – a short film regarded by many to be offensive.

Police waited until the next day to respond to a call from Alber Saber Ayad’s mother. When they eventually arrived they arrested Alber Saber Ayad, confiscating his personal computer and CDs.

The activist’s lawyer told Amnesty International that his client’s trial was marred by the judge’s refusal to allow the defence to call key witnesses – including the arresting and investigating officers, and the individuals who first filed the complaints against Alber Saber Ayad.

While he was held at Cairo’s El Marg Police Station, a police officer reportedly incited other detainees to attack him....."

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

In Cairo, Egyptian Protesters Continue Revolution’s Legacy in Challenging Morsi’s Referendum

Democracy Now!

"Sharif Abdel Kouddous reports from the streets of Cairo, where thousands of people have taken to the streets in new rallies for and against a controversial referendum backed by embattled Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi. In a potential nod to the opposition, Egypt’s government now says the vote will take place on Saturday, as well as one week later. Egypt’s main opposition leaders are urging their supporters to vote "no" in the referendum instead of boycotting it....."

In a polarised Egypt, the thugs and the remnants return to centre stage

Morsi blundered. But Egypt's liberal opposition, blinded by hatred of Islamists, has allied itself with Mubarak-era forces

The Guardian,
But the opposition has also made a grave error. Inadvertently, the liberal, nationalist and youth elements in the political opposition have given the remnants an opportunity to return to centre stage. They have allowed their own Ikhwan-ophobia to dominate, giving more weight to their hatred of the Islamist forces than their evident love of democracy......"

Real News Video (with Transcript): Mass Protests in Egypt Demand Morsi Cancel Referendum

Mayssoun Sukarieh: Many forces from the elite, workers, students and women have their own reasons for opposing new constitution 

More at The Real News

Syria: Incendiary Weapons Used in Populated Areas

Evidence Military Used Bombs That Cause Horrendous Burns

Human Rights Watch
December 12, 2012

"(Washington, DC) – The Syrian military has used air-delivered incendiary bombs in at least four locations across Syria since mid-November2012, Human Rights Watch said today. The conclusion is based on interviews with four witnesses and multiple videos analyzed by Human Rights Watch.

The Syrian military should cease its use of incendiary weapons immediately, Human Rights Watch said. A total of 106 nations have prohibited the use of air-delivered incendiary weapons, which cause serious burns, in populated areas, but Syria has not banned the weapons.

“We’re disturbed that Syria has apparently begun using incendiary munitions, as these weapons cause especially cruel civilian suffering and extensive property destruction when used in populated areas,” said Steve Goose, Arms division director at Human Rights Watch. “Syria should stop using incendiary weapons in acknowledgment of the devastating harm this weapon causes.”......

Since mid-November, the use of incendiary weapons has been reported in at least four locations: Daraya in Damascus, Maarat al-Numan in Idlib, Babila in Damascus, and Quseir in Homs....."

Egypt: Investigate Brotherhood’s Abuse of Protesters

Prosecutor Should Examine Authorities’ Role in Unlawful Detention, Mistreatment 

Human Rights Watch
December 12, 2012

"(New York) – Egypt’s public prosecutor should investigate the detention and abuse of several dozen anti-government protesters in Cairo by Muslim Brotherhood members on December 5 and 6, 2012. At least 49 protesters opposed to President Mohamed Morsy were unlawfully held outside the Ettihadiya presidential palace gate, an area then occupied by the Muslim Brotherhood and overseen by riot police, detainees and witnesses told Human Rights Watch. The detentions followed armed clashes that resulted in the deaths of 10 people, mostly Muslim Brotherhood members, and injuries to 748 more, according to the Health Ministry.
The prosecutor should examine responsibility for the deaths and injuries to protesters, as well as the failure of security forces to intervene to protect a peaceful sit-in by anti-Morsy protesters and to stop the violence by both Morsy supporters and anti-Morsy protesters. He should also investigate Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) leaders who publicly called for their supporters to arrest anti-Morsy protesters.

A speech by Morsy on December 6 in which he referred to “confessions” of detained protesters as evidence that they were “hired thugs” raises concerns for their due process rights and suggests that the authorities were aware of the illegal detentions outside the presidential palace.......

Instead of condemning illegal detentions and abuse right outside the presidential palace, President Morsy instead spoke out against the victims,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch......."

Bahrain must release activist after 'hollow' appeal verdict

Amnesty International

11 December 2012

"Bahrain must release a prominent human rights defender whose conviction for involvement in anti-government protests has been upheld by an appeal court, Amnesty International said today. 

Nabeel Rajab, the President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, had his three-year jail sentence for participating in and calling for “illegal gatherings” reduced to two years by the court.

His lawyers will launch an appeal before a higher court against the conviction, which relates to protests in Bahrain between February and March 2012.

“The appeal court’s gesture to reduce Nabeel Rajab’s sentence by one year is completely hollow given that he shouldn’t be serving any time in prison in the first place,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s director for the Middle East and North Africa.

Nabeel has done nothing wrong, except peacefully express his views. A two-year prison sentence, just like a three-year sentence, is an insult and an injustice that can only be rectified by releasing him.”......"

Video: شيوخ الازهر للأخوان : الرئاسة كبيرة عليكم


"Clerics from Egypt's influential Al-Azhar university join an opposition march to the Presidential Palace, chanting against the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood

A group of clerics from Egypt's Al-Azhar - the foremost center of Sunni religious learning in the Muslim world - join an opposition march against the Muslim Brotherhood.

The clerics joined tens of thousands of demonstrators in a protest that led to the gates of the Presidential Palace, where protesters have been rallying against President Mohamed Morsi since last week. "

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

New Egypt constitution, threat to women’s rights, by Carlos Latuff

Charles Glass on Syria’s Mutual Destruction and the Unconvincing Fears of Assad’s Chemical Weapons

Democracy Now!

"Veteran journalist Charles Glass joins us to discuss his recent trip to Syria and its largest city, Aleppo. Addressing U.S.-led warnings that the Assad regime could deploy chemical warfare, Glass says: "I think it is pretty clear the Syrians have never used chemical weapons, that there is no advantage to them using chemical weapons. ... The areas where there is fighting are areas where people who support them are living, and their own soldiers would themselves be vulnerable to inhaling chemical gases. It sounds to me pretty much like the propaganda that was used prior to the invasion of Iraq, where chemical weapons were held up as an excuse to bring about Western intervention — ultimately when it wasn’t true." A former ABC News Chief Middle East Correspondent, Glass’ book on Syria, "Tribes with Flags," was reissued this year....."

“Protest Here is Vigorous”: Sharif Abdel Kouddous on Unrest, Polarization Before Egypt’s Referendum

Democracy Now!

"Egypt is bracing for new protests today over President Mohamed Morsi’s hotly contested effort to hold a referendum on a controversial draft constitution. Ahead of today’s rallies, masked gunmen attacked opposition protesters camped out in Tahrir Square overnight, injuring more than a dozen. At least seven people have died in clashes and hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets since Morsi unilaterally expanded his powers last month. Democracy Now!’s Sharif Abdel Kouddous files a report from Cairo....."

Israeli occupation forces ransack offices of Addameer, other Palestinian rights groups in heart of PA’s Ramallah

By Ali Abunimah

"In a violent demonstration of who is really in charge of areas under the nominal control of the Palestinian Authority, Israeli occupation forces ransacked the offices of Palestinian human rights organizations in Ramallah early this morning.

In a statement today, Palestinian prisoners’ rights group Addameer said:
At 3 am this morning, 11 December 2012, the Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights office was raided by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF). Four laptops, one hard disk and a video camera were taken among other materials. The IOF destroyed the office; desks, ransacked filing cabinets and files and scattered files around the office. At this moment, we are not clear as to what has been confiscated, but in the coming days we will know more about the level of destruction and damage. This is the first raid by the IOF since 2002, when the Addameer office was raided during the invasion of Ramallah.
 The offices of the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committee and the Palestinian NGO Network were also raided and ransacked last night. Addameer condemns this attack on human rights and civil society organizations, and sees it as an attempt to cripple solidarity with the prisoners movement.
Addameer posted additional photos on its Facebook page......"

هنية يدعو إلى بناء استراتيجية عربية وإسلامية شاملة لتحرير كل فلسطين



"دعا رئيس الحكومة الفلسطينية المقالة في غزة، إسماعيل هنية، خلال لقاءات منفصلة مع وفود عربية وإسلامية وصلت غزة للتضامن، الأمة العربية والإسلامية إلى العمل لبناء استراتيجية شاملة لتحرير فلسطين.
وقال هنية، وفق بيان وزعه مكتبه عقب تلك اللقاءات التي شملت لقاء وفد قافلة "أميال من الابتسامات 18"، ووفد اتحاد المحامين العرب، ووفدا لبنانيا وآخر مغربي، إن "قضية فلسطين قضية الأمة، وإن فلسطين تحرّرها المقاومة، والمقاومة الفلسطينية تحرّر من فلسطين ما تستطيع، ونقول لكم إن فلسطين من النهر إلى البحر تتحرّر بالأمة وليس فقط بالشعب الفلسطيني، والتحرير الشامل يتحقق بالأمة."
واعتبر أن "ما يجري اليوم من زيارات للوفود العربية والإسلامية والحرّة إلى غزة هو من تباشير النصر"،  وقال إن "غزة المحاصرة هي غزة الصامدة والثابتة، والتي لم تتنازل عن أي من الثوابت رغم العدوان والحصار"، مؤكدًا أن "مصر كانت في هذه المعركة شريكة في صناعة النصر، من خلال مواقفها التي أعلنها الرئيس محمد مرسي."[ 
If that is the case, then why is the Rafah 
.....?crossing still closed, Mr. Habila

Muhammad Morsi gives Egypt ‘s army police powers, by Carlos Latuff

Israel raids Palestinian NGO offices

"(Reuters) - Israeli soldiers raided the offices of three civil society organizations on Tuesday in the heart of Ramallah, the de facto Palestinian capital in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Entering before dawn, troops wrenched open the doors of the Women's Union, the Palestinian NGO Network and Addameer, an advocate for Palestinians in Israeli jails, confiscating five computers from the latter group.

The sweeps were the first of their kind in a Palestinian city since the West Bank government won an initiative at the United Nations General Assembly on November 29 which recognized a de facto Palestinian state, stoking tensions with Israel.

"This comes in the context of the U.N.'s decision," Allam Jarrar of the Palestinian NGO Network told reporters on Tuesday morning, "boycott Israel" leaflets strewn on the floor of the raided office.

"This a message by the Israelis to the Palestinians, saying that when they take decisions or form patriotic organizations to seek their freedom, the occupation will use aggression to try and stop us," he said......"

US sending 20 more F-16s to Egypt, despite turmoil in Cairo

"Instability in Egypt, where a newly-elected Islamic government teeters over an angry population, isn't enough to stop the U.S. from sending more than 20 F-16 fighter jets, as part of a $1 billion foreign aid package.

The first four jets are to be delivered to Egypt beginning Jan. 22, a source at the naval air base in Fort Worth, where the planes have been undergoing testing, told The North African nation already has a fleet of more than 200 of the planes and the latest shipment merely fulfills an order placed two years ago. But given the uncertainty in Cairo, some critics wonder if it is wise to be sending more top gun planes....."

Egypt: Morsy Law Invites Military Trials of Civilians

New Law Expands Army’s Law Enforcement Powers During Referendum
"(Cairo) – The law that President Mohamed Morsy of Egypt issued on December 9, 2012, grants the military authority to arrest civilians and refer them to military courts until results are announced in the scheduled December 15 constitutional referendum. Morsy should immediately amend the law to prohibit trials of civilians before military courts and require the military to promptly hand over any detained civilians to civilian prosecutors.....

“Any deployment of the Egyptian military to help maintain security needs to be accompanied by guarantees to respect basic rights,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “President Morsy should be ending, not expanding, military trials of civilians.”

The new law ignores a June administrative court decision annulling a similar decree issued by the justice minister during military rule. Unfair military trials of civilians were one of the most serious violations Egyptians experienced during the more than a year-and-a-half of military rule, with over 12,000 civilians tried before military courts......."

Egypt’s draft constitution a “ticking bomb” for women’s rights

By Joseph Mayton
Bikya Masr

"CAIRO: Egyptian women’s groups have again lashed out at the draft constitution to go to a referendum on December 15, saying it is a “ticking bomb” that threatens the very nature of equality and women’s rights in the country.
The movements have called the referendum “void” as it “crashes the aspirations of the people and the principles of the revolution”.
The local feminist organization, Baheya Ya Masr, has said that by pushing the constitution forward without widespread national consensus is a threat to women in the country.
The group said they feared that the constitution would pave the way for “political Islam,” which they argued would leave out most basic principles of democracy and transparency.
The group said in a statement published on Tuesday that they have observed through reading the draft that it will leave women on the outside of their basic rights.......

Women’s rights have become a major focal point in the new constitution, with a number of conservatives on the assembly pushing to revoke many of the gains achieved in the years leading up to the Egyptian uprising, including divorce rights, economic rights and the age of marriage."

At least 9 injured in Tahrir gunmen attack

By Joseph Mayton
Bikya Masr

"CAIRO: At least 9 Egyptian protesters were injured early Tuesday morning by unknown gunmen, local Egyptian media reported, citing protesters in the square.
According to the reports, police also surrounded the square for the first time since the sit-in calling for the end of President Mohamed Morsi’s regime on November 23 began.
The unknown attackers, some of whom were masked, also lobbed Molotov cocktails that started small fires, witnesses said.
When the attack occurred, the protesters were awakened and immediately began chanting, “the people want the downfall of the regime,” a slogan that has come to mark the past two weeks of demonstrations."

Monday, December 10, 2012

US declares Jabhat al-Nusra, a group in Syria with alleged al-Qaida links, as terrorist body


The Obama administration is declaring a Syrian rebel group with alleged ties to al-Qaida as a terrorist organization. It’s an effort to blunt the influence of extremists as the U.S. steps up cooperation with the Syrian opposition.
The State Department’s action blocks Jabhat al-Nusra’s assets in the U.S. and bars Americans from doing business with the group.
The move hasn’t been announced officially but was included in the Federal Register on Monday. The department said the group was part of al-Qaida in Iraq.
Jabhat al-Nusra has claimed responsibility for suicide bombings on Syrian government targets, raising fears of growing Islamic extremism among the opposition.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is traveling to North Africa this week to try to bolster moderates hoping to end Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime.

انه الأمل ولن نخاف

انه الأمل ولن نخاف
الياس خوري

"لا خوف بعد اليوم، فلقد سقط جدار الخوف في ميدان التحرير وشارع الحبيب بورقيبة وميادين سورية وساحاتها.
ممَ نخاف وماذا نخشى؟
هل يخيف كلام المرشد ونائبه الشاطر عن المؤامرة؟ ام تخيفنا مجموعات النهضة التي تعتدي على عمال تونس؟ ام نخشى هلوسات الأسد الاجرامية؟ ام ماذا؟
بعد كل هذه التضحيات لم يعد هناك مكان للخوف.
على الاسلاميين ان يعلموا ان الثورة لن تسمح لأحد بأن يسرقها في غفلة من الزمن، وعلى ما تبقى من حزب البعث ان يعلم ان اوان الرحيل قد ازفّ، وان زمن الأبد الأسدي لن تنقذه براميل الديناميت، وان تخويف الثوار بأن النظام يستطيع تدمير الدولة لن يجدي.
ما يجري في مثلث الثورات العربية، في مصر وتونس وسورية ليس انقلابا سلطويا، بل هو ثورة انفجرت بالشعوب قبل ان تقوم الشعوب بتفجيرها.
لذا لن نخاف.
على محمد مرسي ومكتب الارشاد الاخواني في مصر ان يفهموا ان الثورة لا تستسلم خوفا او ترهيبا، وان التلاعب بالدساتير، التي يجب ان تكون نتاج اجماع وطني تصنعه قوى الثورة، لن يقودهم الا الى الخراب.
مصر لا تؤخذ هكذا.
اذا اراد الاخوان واخوانهم في حركة النهضة ان يشاركوا في المسار الديموقراطي فأهلا وسهلا، وهذا حقهم وواجبهم، اما اذا كانوا يعتقدون ان الديموقراطية هي لعبة اقتناص للسلطة، وانه يكفي ان يتوافقوا مع الامريكان على ذلك، فهذا غباء لن يقود الا الى الهاوية.
كان التخويف من الاسلاميين هو فزاعة الديكتاتور التي حطمها الشعب في ثورته، فلماذا وباسم ماذا يتبنى قادة الاخوان واخوانهم في حركة النهضة الصورة التي رسمها لهم الديكتاتور، معتقدين انهم يستطيعون ان يحلّوا في مكانه، ويتصرفوا مثله.
السيد محمد مرسي يبدو وهو يتدكتر اشبه بالدمية التي يحركها المرشد ونائبه الشاطر، يهدد ويتوعد، يتشاطر موحيا بالتراجع ولا يتراجع، يتنعّج كي يقترب من فريسته ثم يتذأب من اجل ان يفترسها.
اللعبة لن تنطلي على احد.
المرسي يملك ميليشيا فليكن، ماذا تستطيع الميليشيا ان تفعل؟ الناس لم تعد تخاف شيئا، فالذي اسقط مبارك وبطانته وشرطته وجِماله لن يخشى ميليشيا جديدة، تهدد وتتوعد لكنها بلا حول، وحولها حفنة من رجال الأعمال الملتحين الذين يريدون ان يرثوا عزّ احمد العزّ، بخطاب يستخدم الدين كي يسوّغ السيطرة على الدنيا.
الثورة تتجدد اليوم، من قال إن الثورة انتهت بمجرد حصول الانتخابات، وان الديموقراطية تحققت لحظة غادر الطاغية هربا من غضب الشعب.
الثورة والديموقراطية عمليتان معقدتان وطويلتان، واليوم نشهد فصلا جديدا منهما، لن يكون آخر فصولهما بالطبع. الميادين التي احتلها الناس معلنين غضبهم، يجب ان لا تتحول الى ذكرى، انها اداة العملية الثورية المستمرة، الى ان نصل الى الحرية والديموقراطية والعدالة الاجتماعية.
في الميادين تولد العلاقة بين الشعب والسياسة وبين السياسة والثقافة، والذين اعتقدوا، في لحظة حلفهم الانتهازي مع العسكر، انهم يستطيعون افتراس مصر، يكتشفون ان ميادين الثورة قادرة على ان تتوالد من جديد، وان لا عودة الى الوراء، وان ارادة الثوريين تصهرها الصعوبات والمواجهات.
اما في سورية، فإن عناد الديكتاتور ووحشيته جعلا من الثورة السورية مدرسة في البطولة والتحدي. هنا في مدن سورية ودساكرها فرض النظام المتغول اشكالا نضالية متنوعة، بدأت بالمظاهرات السلمية واتخذت اشكالا عسكرية متعددة.
لن يخيفنا واقع ان القيادات السياسية ليست على مستوى الثورة، ولن تخيفنا انظمة الاستبداد النفطي التي تعتقد أنها تستخدم الثورة من أجل تصفية حساباتها الإقليمية مع ايران. المسألة اكبر من ذلك بكثير، انها بداية مرحلة جديدة تبني الدولة الوطنية وتقيم تمييزا بين الدولة والسلطة السياسية التي تنحصر مهمتها في ادارة الدولة ولا تستطيع ان تستولي عليها او ترهنها.
في سورية تكثيف دموي لما يجري في مصر وتونس، مع الاختلافات الكبيرة في البنية السياسية في الدول الثلاث. لكن رغم الاختلاف التفصيلي في الآليات، فإن الهدف واحد، وهو بناء الدولة على اسس ديموقراطية راسخة، وجعل الشعب مصدر كل السلطات والرقيب عليها.
واذا كان النظام العائلي المافيوي في سورية يقوم بتحويل الدولة الى ركام على السوريين اعادة بنائها من جديد، فإن المهمات في مصر وتونس تلتقي مع المهمة السورية في اعادة بناء الدولة بوصفها نظاما من المؤسسات والسلطات المستقلة، التي تتعاون في ما بينها، وتؤسس لدولة القانون.
مثلث الثورات العربية في مصر وتونس وسورية هو مثلث الأمل الحقيقي بخروج العرب من الانحطاط الذي صنعه الاستبداد.
وهو مثلث يواجه اليوم منعطفات كبرى، معلنا بكل وضوح ان الثورة مخاض سياسي واجتماعي وفكري، وان ما يواجهها في هذه الأيام الكبرى هو صعوبات التحرر من آثار الاستبداد وبناء افق تملأ به الأفق.

The decline and fall of the Muslim Brotherhood

On Wednesday night the Muslim Brotherhood had completed a complex process of transforming into its ugliest caricature: a gang of fascist thugs

By  Hani Shukrallah , Thursday 6 Dec 2012
Ahram Online

"To chants of “Command, command oh Badei, you command and we obey,” the Muslim Brotherhood in power was fast mutating into the very caricature of itself as painted by its bitterest enemies. Its easily mobilized, effortlessly bussed loyalists, happy to throng in their thousands in typically malevolent and horrifyingly brutal defense of policies and decisions they knew nothing about, now stood in stark contrast to the “new Egyptians” born of the revolution they made – a brave, free and rebellious people who bow to no one, and for whom the very notion of “obedience” is anathema......

Pity then, that the seductive kiss of power in post-revolution Egypt should have transformed them, vampire like, to that very caricature. We might identify several crucial moments in that transformation:.....

For both the military and their Muslim Brotherhood allies, the revolution had not so much given rise to a new political and social order as it had created a power vacuum which needed to be filled. For the Brotherhood specifically, the moment of “Tamkin”, or empowerment had arrived. A power-sharing arrangement between the twin inheritors of the Mubarak regime seemed written in the stars.
Yet the revolutionary energy unleashed in January/February 2011 would not dissipate.....

In the space of a few months, between the parliamentary elections (28 November 2011 - 11 January 2012) and the first round of the presidential elections (23 - 24 May 2012), the Brotherhood had managed to lose over half its electoral base – nearly seven million votes.....

A Brotherhood in power that is happy to collaborate with the US and Israel in fighting terrorism in Sinai; speaks of strategic ties with Washington; signs a typically stringent loan deal with the IMF; shows astonishing ineptitude and lack of vision; fails to deliver on any of its own promises, let alone the promises of the revolution; and is hailed by the US and Europe for its role in “containing” Hamas and safeguarding Israel’s security is a Brotherhood that has lost whatever mystique it once had....

Such awareness however did not make for a willingness to open up to a growingly politicized, and pluralistic Egyptian society and its reemerging political landscape, but rather to create a frenzied sense of urgency that if they don’t seize the full reins of power today, they will have lost what is possibly their single chance to do so in the 84 years of the group’s life.....

On Wednesday, thousands of Muslim Brotherhood thugs, armed with rifles, shotguns, knives, chains, bludgeons and remarkably, tear-gas were bussed into the vicinity of the presidential palace to attack the few hundred peaceful protesters that had staged a symbolic sit-in before the palace following Tuesday march.
As the footage and testimonies of protesters, bystanders and journalists kept coming onto the airwaves and the social media, we seemed to have been hurled back in time and space, to the rise of Nazism in Germany, Fascism in Italy, Francism in Spain.

The mutation of the Muslim Brotherhood into its ugliest caricature: a gang of fascist thugs was complete.
No pasaran!
They shall not pass!"

Egypt army given arrest powers before referendum

President Morsi decree sets 'dangerous precedent' warns Amnesty amid fears civilians could be subjected to military trials

in Cairo,

Egypt army row – a protester writes a message using sand in the street near Tahrir Square, Cairo, that reads 'Down with the supreme leader's rule'. Photograph: AP

"There has been growing concern in Cairo about a decree issued by President Mohamed Morsi that gives Egypt's armed forces powers of arrest and detainment during Saturday's constitutional referendum vote.
The decree, which lasts until the result of the referendum is announced, has reignited the issue of detainment of civilians in Egypt and their subjection to military trials. During the transitional period overseen by the military junta, some 12,000 civilians were tried and sentenced in military tribunals.

Amnesty International called the decree a "dangerous loophole" that could once again lead to detainment of civilians. "Considering the track record of the army while they were in charge, with more than 120 protesters killed and in excess of 12,000 civilians unfairly tried before military courts, this sets a dangerous precedent," said Amnesty's deputy Middle East and north Africa director, Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui......

Morsi also suspended a series of tax rises on Monday morning, hours after they had been issued. The increases were announced as part of an economic reform package being introduced before a 19 December deadline for International Monetary Fund approval of a $4.8bn loan. Then at 2am local time, a message was posted on Morsi's official Facebook page suspending – not cancelling – the tax hikes because he "felt the pulse of the streets and is aware of how much the Egyptian citizen is burdened in these tough economic times"."

Western media and the Brotherhood: secrets behind the love affair

Why does the Western media refuse to see the epochal resurgence of Egypt's revolutionary spirit? Because love is blind

Hani Shukrallah , Monday 10 Dec 2012
Ahram Online

"..... Egypt was once again making world history; millions of Egyptians across the country were engaged in open popular revolt against the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood, almost literally the mother of all modern political Islamist movements, not least the dread Al-Qaeda, which had occupied the centre stage of global politics – and Western media attention – for close on three decades.
So remarkable was this new wave of the Egyptian revolution, its reach extended from the heartland of Brotherhood-support in Upper Egypt to Mediterranean Alexandria, which in turn had appeared to have thoroughly renounced its rich cosmopolitan heritage to become the distasteful playground of grim Taliban-like Salafists.
It was, moreover, the first ever popular uprising against a ruling Islamist movement, much wider in scope, intensity and social composition than any of the revolts we’d seen hitherto against the Ayatollahs’ rule in Iran.
And yet, the Western media seemed unmoved and uninterested. “They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but they cannot see.”.....

Why then this obdurate blindness that seems suddenly to have struck the Western media vis-à-vis Egypt?
I would suggest two basic reasons, one deep-seated, almost visceral, while the other is conscious, interest-bound and utilitarian.....

Arch-Zionist and one time British spook, Bernard Louis would tell us such things as: “To the modern Western observer,” Islamic behviour in the modern world may appear anomalous, anachronistic and absurd, but he would hasten to add, “it is neither anachronistic nor absurd in relation to Islam.” By 1990, well before the 9/ 11 atrocity, Louis would take his bizarre-Muslims theory a little bit further, giving us the Clash, “the perhaps irrational but surely historical reaction of an ancient rival against our Judeo-Christian heritage.” Samuel Huntington would later “develop” it into one of the most ridiculous pieces of political theory ever (badly)-written, “The Clash of Civilizations”, first in essay, then in book form.
But clash, dialogue or love-fest, the real point is the dissimilarity. In contrast to the rest of the world, and specifically to the “West”, the behavior of Muslims, be it political, social, or cultural can only be understood “in relation to Islam”, and this an Islam divested of the greatest and most enlightened of its traditions, an Islam defined and delimited by modern day Islamists, conservative, literalist and regressive. Not only was the great tradition of Islamic rationalism to be denied, but every other feature of the richness and diversity of our inherited and contemporary culture. Everything from a Thousand and One Nights to Om Kalthoum would be thrown by the way side.
Mubarak, no less than Islamist forces in Egypt and outside were happy to subscribe to variations of such a reductive perspective. For the sitting dictator, it was proof positive that his vicious police state was the only bulwark standing between the world and an Islamist flood sweeping the country, beloved Israel, the Greater Middle East, crossing over into the European heartland, and exploding a nuclear device in some major American city.
For the dictators in waiting, it was proof positive that they were “the authentic” representatives of an overwhelmingly “authentic” population, (“90% of the people,” to quote Mr Morsi, who won the presidential election by a bare 51% of the vote) – all they need do is convince the “West” that, in power, they would make nice with Israel, keep the Greater Middle East safe for the World Bank, IMF and multi-national corporations, and that their often rabid civilization clashing was really confined to domestic “others”, including liberal ninnies, commie agitators, licentious riff-raff such as artists, writers and journalists, and, of course, local Christians, Shiites and Bahaais.
The Arab Spring, especially the Egyptian revolution, came to unseat the all pervasive, pernicious paradigm. And for a brief period the Western media seemed happy to discover that for Arabs and Muslims too, there was “something in the soul that cries out of freedom,” as Obama was to quote Martin Luther King Jr. in his salute to the Egyptian revolution on 12 February 2011.
Yet, even during those glorious 18 days of Jan-Feb of that year, I would constantly get Western journalists querying me about “the crucial” or “decisive” part Islamists, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood, were playing in the revolution. Where they got such certitude I was at a loss to understand, seeing that there were millions on the streets, that you’d be hard pressed to find a single sign or chant in Cairo’s Tahrir or anywhere else in the country calling for the application of Sharia’a or “governance by what God has ordained,” that the revolutionary banner of: Bread, Freedom, Social Justice, had not an ounce of Islamism in it, that Christians and Muslims, women and men, fought together shoulder to shoulder, and that egalitarianism among all Egyptians had been the overriding ethic of the Egyptian revolution.
All too soon, the readiness of the Brotherhood and its Salafist allies coupled to the unpreparedness of the revolutionaries (due to 30 years of the eradication of politics under Mubarak) seemed to bear the deep-seated bias out. The extremely nuanced and complex reality of post revolutionary Egypt would be made to disappear, and the Western media’s coverage of the emergent political landscape in the country would regress into – what I’ve come to call – infantile Orientalism.

Deep-seated bias is only one part of the explanation, however. The second secret to the love affair is much more down to earth, essentially a function of realpolitik. For the US-led Western alliance, the Muslim Brotherhood in power in Egypt proved to be the answer to a prayer.

Notwithstanding all the rhetoric about the liberation of “Islamic Palestine”, Egypt’s new rulers would swear themselves blue in the face that they would uphold the commitment to the peace treaty with Israel, collaborate with the “hated enemy” in fighting terrorists in Sinai, bring in American troops and sophisticated spying equipment into the troubled peninsula’s demilitarized Area C, all the while maintaining “strategic ties” with Washington.

It would take the US/Egypt brokered truce in Gaza, however, to have Western media and pundits drooling over Mr Morsi and his up-and-coming Muslim Brotherhood run and controlled regime. All of a sudden, they discovered that not only was the MB president as compliant as his predecessor on “Israeli security”, but that he was proving a much more effective partner in this respect.
Suddenly, the realization hit home: Here was a democratically elected president (albeit narrowly), backed by
“authentic” Islamist Muslims, not only in Egypt but throughout the Greater Middle East, able not only to intimidate and pressure Hamas into “reasonableness”, as Mubarak’s Omar Suleiman was known to do, but to do so in his capacity as Big Brother to the errant Palestinian branch of his movement. A unique and previously unexpected prize of this order was simply too precious to squander, even for the sake of such niceties as basic liberties and human rights.
So precious indeed, that one Israeli political writer suggested only last week that Netanyahu’s Israel might be in the process of making a strategic shift in its attitude to Hamas. Translated from the Hebrew by Media-Clips-Isr, Alex Fishman, writing in Ye​dioth Aharonot, suggests that under Netanyahu’s leadership Israel was in the process of changing its policy on the Gaza Strip, and that “Instead of toppling Hamas, it wants to give the Hamas regime power so that it will ensure quiet and to push it toward the Sunni, anti-Iranian coalition of Egypt, Qatar and Turkey.” Far-fetched, you might say. Possibly, I admit I haven’t been following Israeli politics as I should, what with domestic Egyptian developments overwhelming time and thought. Yet, very indicative, to say the least.
Rehabilitating Hamas with a view to “safeguarding Israeli security”, as defined by Netanyhau, no less than setting up a regional Sunni coalition against Iran are, it goes without saying, top agenda items in US/European policy in the Middle East.
But there is a more compelling reason for the Western alliance and its media’s love affair with Egypt’s Brotherhood – one of even greater strategic import. For some time now, the US and its allies had come to realize that the rickety, aged and corruption-ridden police states in the region, however servile, were very poor guardians of their vital interests in the region. The Arab Spring seemed to have given rise to a new and ostensibly much more solid foundation on which to anchor these interests. And as predicted by nearly everyone for years, some form of political Islam seemed the only viable alternative at hand.
 In Egypt, by far the biggest Arab state and home to Al-Azhar, the very fount-head of Sunni Islam, the Mother of all Islamist movements, the Muslim Brotherhood, had come to power and was ready and able to be the sort of loyal friend and guardian of “vital” Western interests as its predecessors had been, and to do so in a considerably more “legitimate” and effective manner.
 Embroiled for the past decade in a seemingly endless and harrowing battle against “terrorism”, specifically against Islamist radicalism, and with Europe increasingly phobic about the “demographic nightmare” of the Muslim “enemy within”, the US and its allies now had a model of the kind of Islamism they could have only dreamed of. By its very existence, such an Egyptian model was bound to undercut the dread radicals and ameliorate the “Islamist threat”, all the way from the heart of Paris to the Qaeda infested hills of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
This veritable treasure was as valuable to hold onto as its opposite, the collapse of such a model, was to be dreaded. Indubitably, such failure would provide a powerful boost to Islamist radicals everywhere, a further argument that Jihad rather than a “Western, Secularist-imported democracy” is the only way forward.
The love affair is thus explained, and as the popular saying goes “Love is blind.”
And yet, here at home, the souls of millions of Egyptians continue to cry out for freedom, come what may."