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A superb new book on the 2011 Egyptian uprising shows how Israel helped thwart democracy there

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Anyone deluded enough to believe that Israel truly wants democracy to spread in the Middle East must read David D. Kirkpatrick’s outstanding first-hand account of the 2011 uprising in Egypt and its ugly aftermath. Kirkpatrick was the New York Times’s main reporter on the scene in Cairo, and readers who remember his superb dispatches from Tahrir Square back then will also be fascinated by his follow-up reporting, which includes interviews with the major Egyptian protagonists and with other key actors like former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and President Obama’s influential assistant, Ben Rhodes.

Kirkpatrick’s page-turning account is called Into the Hands of Soldiers: Freedom and Chaos in Egypt and the Middle East.  It is about much more than Israel’s support for the brutal 2013 coup that overturned Egypt’s nascent (if flawed) democracy and restored a military regime that is today the most repressive in Egypt’s modern history. But at every stage, his thorough history shows that whenever some American officials, like President Obama, tried to promote democracy by threatening to cut off some of the $1.3 billion in annual U.S. military aid, Israel and its supporters in Washington lobbied hard against it. 

Kirkpatrick quotes Leon Panetta, at the time the head of the CIA, who says the new Egyptian strongman, General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, recognized that the American threats were bluffs partly because Sisi was confident the Israel lobby would protect the Egyptian military. 

The [U.S.] Congress knew that in a part of the world where Israel does not have a lot of friends, it does not make a heck of a lot of sense to kick Egypt in the ass, because they are one of the few players in that area that are a friend to Israel.

Israel was not the only reason the U.S. betrayed democracy in Egypt. America’s other allies in the region, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf oil kingdoms, also preferred military rule there. Senior U.S. commanders, like Generals James Mattis and Michael Flynn, had personal ties to Sisi and other Egyptian top brass. Kirkpatrick also notes that Hillary Clinton “saw the generals as a source of stability.” But remove Israel from the equation and it is more likely that the minority of moderates in the Obama administration, which included Obama himself, might have prevailed. 

Into the Hands of Soliders

Kirkpatrick spent 6 years reporting from Egypt, and his masterpiece should become the standard account of a historic period that is bitterly contested. He shows how many of the brave, youthful pro-democracy demonstrators who ignited the uprising on January 25, 2011 that brought down President Hosni Mubarak later betrayed their ideals by supporting the 2013 military coup against the elected government of Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood. 

He has a cool, thoughtful appraisal of Morsi and the Brotherhood’s 1 year and 3 days in office, recognizing their mistakes, but defending them against the dishonest charges that the military and its supporters used to justify the coup. He points out that that “Western diplomats often complained .  .  .  that Morsi refused to volunteer big concessions. But he made many invitations to negotiate and dialogue. The opposition always declined them.”

Kirkpatrick, along with his assistant, a remarkable young Egyptian woman named Mayy el-Sheikh, were in Cairo’s Rabaa Square after the coup when 100,000 supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood staged a peaceful protest in July and August 2013, before the army and police slaughtered as many as 1000 of them. Kirkpatrick notes that despite hysterical claims from other Egyptians, “Neither I nor any other Western journalist I know ever saw weapons at Rabaa during the sit-in, and I visited often.” He adds that more Egyptians died than in the Tiananmen Square massacre in China in 1989.

John Kerry comes off particularly badly in Kirkpatrick’s account, and his reputation should suffer. He disrespected Morsi, showed a shocking ignorance of Egypt, and endorsed the military takeover. In Kerry’s interviews with Kirkpatrick, he shows little or no contrition about his promotion of a regime that today holds between 30,000 and 60,000 political prisoners. 

Egypt today is a time bomb. The economy is stagnating, kept afloat only by billions in aid from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states. Kirkpatrick shows how the Sisi regime has sunk into mega-corruption, instead of squarely facing Egypt’s chronic economic and social crisis. The savage repression against the nonviolent Muslim Brotherhood is turning Islamists to violence, especially among the young. New armed groups stage regular attacks in the Sinai peninsula, and Kirkpatrick reveals that regular Israeli air strikes, undoubtedly coordinated with Sisi’s government, are helping to hold the jihadists at bay. 

Kirkpatrick’s gripping account is mostly measured, as he lets his superb reporting speak for itself. But at the end, he grows eloquent:

Egyptians have as much potential as any people to fulfill the promises of freedom and democracy that brought Tahrir Square to life. I watched thousands give their lives to build a more just and free Egypt. Their sacrifices are no less inspiring because they were defeated. They labored under the burden of more than six decades of unresolved fears and resentments, against powerful cliques like the judges and generals still deeply invested in the status quo. And for those thirty months, longer than anyone had a right to expect, Egyptians nonetheless beat back repeated attempts to restore that old order.”

James North
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42 Responses

  1. CigarGod
    CigarGod
    August 16, 2018, 8:47 pm

    Excellent!

  2. Citizen
    Citizen
    August 16, 2018, 11:03 pm

    Thanks, James North. Insightful.

  3. Tuyzentfloot
    Tuyzentfloot
    August 17, 2018, 4:46 am

    I read Esam Al-Amin’s articles on Counterpunch in the time and thought they were excellent. https://www.counterpunch.org/author/4atrabru/ . Check his most recent article in the list.
    He hasn’t written anything in the past three years and I wonder if he’s alive and free to write.

  4. hophmi
    hophmi
    August 17, 2018, 10:13 am

    Can’t take seriously anyone who refers to the Muslim Brotherhood as non-violent. That’s ridiculous. That’s propaganda that no one in the Middle East buys, let alone abroad. Can understand arguing that his removal was anti-democratic, though he ruled as a sectarian, and allowed the Copts to be persecuted. He was no democrat, and it was bad enough that Egyptians were ready to get rid of him. And I have no doubt that Obama was happy to see him go.

    • James North
      James North
      August 17, 2018, 10:21 am

      You are lying. Read Kirkpatrick’s book. Provide any evidence that the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood was violent during the decades leading up to the 2013 military coup and subsequent massacre. And stop boasting that Israel is “the only democracy in the Middle East.”

      • Misterioso
        Misterioso
        August 17, 2018, 10:53 am

        @James North

        I agree with your comment.
        I lived in Cairo for a few years and came to know members of the Muslim Brotherhood as well as several Coptic Christians.

        Also, as any reasonably well informed knows, the entity known as “Israel” is the very antithesis of a “democracy” i.e., it is and always has been an ethnocracy, a political structure in which the state apparatus is appropriated by a dominant ethnic group to further its interests, power and resources. In short, apartheid.

      • gamal
        gamal
        August 17, 2018, 12:55 pm

        I. M. Husaini “The Moslem Brethren” Beirut 1956,

        “The Reformers of Egypt” MA Zaki Badawi Croom Helm 1976

        and some guy in the NYT

        “We are not terrorists. The Muslim Brotherhood’s philosophy is inspired by an understanding of Islam that emphasizes the values of social justice, equality and the rule of law. Since its inception in 1928, the Brotherhood has lived in two modes: surviving in hostile political environments or uplifting society’s most marginalized. As such, we have been written about, spoken of, but rarely heard from. It is in that spirit that I hope these words find light”

        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/22/opinion/i-am-a-member-of-the-muslim-brotherhood-not-a-terrorist.html

        As a result of my father being in the Muslim Brotherhood prior to 1954, he severed ties on that seminal date but was stripped of citizenship, he refused to take another nationality and it was returned by Sadat and that hurt him more than anything, he was an admirer of Nasser and cordially loathed Sadat and I am currently unable to go Egypt because of that association, genes don’t always help it seems, not for us anyway.

      • dionissis_mitropoulos
        dionissis_mitropoulos
        August 17, 2018, 5:11 pm

        Hi hophmi

        You said:

        “I Can’t take seriously anyone who refers to the Muslim Brotherhood as non-violent.”

        But this means that you can’t take seriously the very pro-Israel counterterrorist expert Scott Atran who said that the Muslim Brotherhood is largely nonviolent:

        https://aeon.co/essays/radical-islam-and-the-alt-right-are-not-so-different

        “the largely non-violent Muslim Brotherhood”

        I had left a very pertinent comment in this Aeon article in a discussion with Scott Atran, and I am frustrated to see that all the comments are inexplicably gone. I have emailed Aeon and I await to retrieve my comments so that I can copy paste my comment here, hophmi.

        Meanwhile here is another link by one of the most Islamophobic sites on the internet, one of those sites that covertly incites for pogrom of Muslims in the West, and even this site recognizes the non-violent character of the Muslim Brotherhood:

        https://clarionproject.org/getting-inside-head-ohio-attacker-2/

        “Here the rhetoric of non-violent or semi-violent Islamist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood or Hizb ut-Tahrir comes into play. These groups want the same thing as ISIS but are willing to work within existing systems non-violently to get there.”

        Of course, the Muslim Brotherhood has nothing to do with ISIS, but as i said the Clarion Project site is a champion in Islamophobia, i only posted the sentence so as to stress that your claim, hophmi, about the putative violent character of the Muslim Brotherhood is debunked even by the most extreme Islamophobes.

        You also said:

        “He [the Muslim Brotherhood President] was no democrat, and it was bad enough that Egyptians were ready to get rid of him.”

        And yet it seems that the dedicatedly pro-Israel Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) considers that the Muslim Brotherhood of the post-Mubarak era offered relatively more freedom that what the Egyptian dictator Sisi offers:

        https://www.washingtoninstitute.org/uploads/Documents/pubs/BeyondIslamists-Trager.pdf

        “the relative freedom of the post-Mubarak era [prior to the crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood by dictator Sisi]

        But dictator Sisi, after the coup, effectively made to reformists an offer they couldn’t refuse, according to WINEP:

        “the successful crackdown on the Brotherhood …bolstered the government’s argument that stability required a strong—meaning repressive—state. And according to the government’s narrative, those who advocated for greater political openness were in fact advocating for a weak state and possibly chaos. Framed in this way, Egypt’s non-Islamist political parties faced a stark choice: they were either with the state, meaning aligned with the security forces, or they supported political upheaval. So when former defense minister Abdul Fattah al-Sisi ran for president in a barely contested election in May 2014, many non-Islamist party leaders endorsed him”.

        [Egyptian political reformists today] fear that openly declaring their reformist intentions will invite blowback or worse.”

        In other words, reformists after the coup under dictator Sisi have the following choice: either they not oppose Sisi, or they end up like the Muslim Brotherhood.

      • dionissis_mitropoulos
        dionissis_mitropoulos
        August 17, 2018, 5:22 pm

        Fantastic article Mr North, i learned a lot

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        August 17, 2018, 7:17 pm

        Hello “dionissis”!

        Get a load of “American Perspective” , below. He’s a corker.

      • James North
        James North
        August 17, 2018, 7:39 pm

        Yes. “American Perspective” mentions below “160 dead soldiers in Gaza.” You have to pause for a few seconds to realize that his “160 soldiers” figure includes the women, kids and health workers the Israeli snipers murdered over the past few months. When your side is unjust, you just have to lie.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        August 17, 2018, 7:54 pm

        “160 soldiers” figure includes the women, kids and health workers the Israeli snipers murdered over the past few months”

        And oddly enough, includes no actual “soldiers”.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        August 17, 2018, 7:59 pm

        “You have to pause for a few seconds”

        Most people will, after reading one or two, prefer to use those precious seconds to scroll on past “AP” rather than waste any more time with him.

      • dionissis_mitropoulos
        dionissis_mitropoulos
        August 17, 2018, 10:11 pm

        Hi mooser! I took note of what you asked me to, and i plan to respond to some “corky” claims, but not today.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        August 18, 2018, 12:51 pm

        ” and i plan to respond”

        Good. I’ll be reading, “Dionissis”.

      • Steve Grover
        Steve Grover
        August 20, 2018, 4:15 pm

        James North is calling hophmi a liar. Yeah, that is expected coming from Katrina Vanden Heuvel’s token anti-Semite at the Nation. His job is to make the Nation appealing to the anti-Semites of the far left. Basically a typical Mondoweiss devotee.

      • James North
        James North
        August 20, 2018, 4:31 pm

        Mooser: A masterstroke for your sock puppet. It’s hard to see how you could make “Grover” any stupider than you have already, but you succeeded! You have him calling me “The token anti-Semite at The Nation!” You are a true genius!

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        August 20, 2018, 4:56 pm

        ” It’s hard to see how you could make “Grover” any stupider than you have already, but you succeeded.”

        You ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Just wait until I start him using the “emojis” accessible from the comment box.

    • dionissis_mitropoulos
      dionissis_mitropoulos
      August 17, 2018, 7:57 pm

      Hi again hophmi.

      Concerning your claim that Israel is “the only democracy in the Middle East”, the quick answer is that Israel is the only democracy because it does not allow its neighboring countries to become democracies. But then this is no reason for Israel to be proud, is it?

      The long answer is in my comment-response to commenter DaBakr here:

      https://mondoweiss.net/2018/08/country-protecting-borders/comment-page-1/#comment-926323

      • dionissis_mitropoulos
        dionissis_mitropoulos
        August 21, 2018, 7:21 am

        The reply to commenter Dabakr i ‘m talking about is the first one, later on i added one more.

    • druid
      druid
      August 18, 2018, 1:01 am

      The usual Zio troll!

    • dionissis_mitropoulos
      dionissis_mitropoulos
      August 18, 2018, 9:23 am

      Hophmi, here is one more link offering evidence that Egypt under the dictatorship of Sisi suffers far more authoritarianism than under the democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood. I quote from the Financial Times:

      https://www.ft.com/content/8127ef6e-c38e-11e6-9bca-2b93a6856354

      “The shortlived Islamist government of Mohamed Morsi showed its own autocratic bent but authoritarianism has become far more entrenched under Mr Sisi.”

      By the way, that’s the process that leads moderate Muslims to join ISIS or other transnational jihad orgs: the repression by dictators that the West is supporting (mostly, if not exclusively, for the sake of Israel) radicalizes the repressed moderate Muslims. Some will turn against the regime that represses them, but some will, naturally, seek revenge against the West which supports the local dictators that are oppressing them. I quote, same Financial Times link:

      “The Muslim Brotherhood has received a “tremendous blow”, as Mr Sisi says. But western officials and some Egyptian politicians warn that attempts to eradicate it have also radicalised younger members and created new recruits for terrorist groups.”

      To visualize this radicalization process more vividly, just consider that the repression under dictator Sis includes torture in jails, in the form of electrocution or rape:

      https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2017-09-07/senate-panel-slashes-military-aid-to-egypt

      “In a report released today, Human Rights Watch accuses the Sisi government of operating an “assembly line of torture,” including electrocution and rape, against dissidents of all political stripes.”

      Sisi is worse than the Muslim Brotherhood even in the realm of LGBT rights:

      https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/11/world/africa/gay-egyptians-surveilled-and-entrapped-are-driven-underground.html?emc=edit_tnt_20160810&nlid=65399157&tntemail0=y&_r=0

      “Between the unraveling of the Mubarak government and the overthrow of Egypt’s first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people faced little threat from the police, who were focused on other matters and largely ignored what happened at house parties or bars in Cairo’s crumbling, bohemian downtown. The crackdown began in earnest when a military curfew imposed after the removal of Mr. Morsi ended in fall 2013, said Scott Long, a human rights activist who lived in Egypt for many years and wrote a landmark report for Human Rights Watch on the last major crackdown.”

      Needless to say, the Muslim Brotherhood moderate Muslims were only the first to be targeted. The liberals were the natural next target of the Egyptian dictator (same Financial Times link):

      “The security clampdown has not been confined to Islamists. Many liberals who had cheered Mr Sisi have watched with dismay as young secular activists who led the revolution were thrown in jail, human rights organisations have come under pressure and civil society leaders slapped with travel bans”

  5. American Perspective
    American Perspective
    August 17, 2018, 6:34 pm

    I haven’t commented in a while (been busy) but figured I’d pop up here. Hopefully the moderators will let this comment through, as a dissenting voice.

    As I’ve mentioned, the far-right commentators on this blog have delusional ideas about Israel. This summer alone, these delusions resulted in 160 dead soldiers in Gaza, because the military command completely misunderstood their enemy. Reading this article, the delusions seem to include a complete lack of understanding about the Arab Republic.

    Firstly – when has the State of Israel expressed any opinion about what the Arab Republic should be? Does it make any difference to the Israeli state whether Egypt is run as a Khedivate or as a colonial possession of the French or English Monarchy (all of which have been tried with varying levels of success)? Would it matter to Israel if Egypt became an anarcho-socialist commune or a Völkische Führerprinzip (all of which have been given serious consideration in the past Century)? Whatever political structure Egypt chooses does not matter in the slightest to the Israeli state.

    The Egyptian population surpassed an unsustainable hundred million population this year as it becomes an increasingly poorer Arab Republic that (other than a half-century peaceful no-man’s land between them) shares virtually no financial, military, cultural, economic, political, historical or religious ties with the State of Israel.

    To Israel, the Arab Republic is an irrelevancy.

    At the margins, it’s in the interest of the Israeli state that the Arab Republican military remain under unified command – which, by the way, it did under the Arab Republicans, then under the Ikhwan and again under the Arab Republicans when they retook the government.

    What this commentator seems to want for Egypt – as she teeters on the brink of mass starvation – is that it convulse with an unprecedented coup *against* the army (which has never happened in world history) and then the Ikhwan or anarcho-socialist or some imagined group of radicals will mobilize their captured army and the starving nation to launch a massive war overseas. So we’re going to launch a policy that will surely result in the death of millions Egyptians. All so that the upper-middle class Arab nationalists in Palestine (who are much much wealthier than Egyptians and also share virtually nothing in common with them) feel empowered.

    Might as well harness NASA to make the Muslims feel good about themselves. How did that work out for NASA? #ObamaStrategy

    The delusion that underlies the writing here on Mondoweiss, and the truly awful, awful, awful advice that’s promoted speaks volumes about the far-right Arab nationalist cause.

    • Talkback
      Talkback
      August 18, 2018, 3:22 am

      American Perspective: “As I’ve mentioned, the far-right commentators on this blog have delusional ideas about Israel.”

      The only far-right commentators on this blog are Zionists.

      American Perspective: “This summer alone, these delusions resulted in 160 dead soldiers in Gaza …”

      The delusion lies in the fact that every Nonjew who is killed by Zionists is called a “terrorist” or a “soldier” post mortem to justify his/her killing. But as usual they fail to justify why it was necessary to kill them. The only justified reason to use lethal means is because there is no other way to protect yourself from getting killed. It would be another delusion to claim that this is exactly the situation Israel’s “soldiers” are facing.

      American Perspective: “To Israel, the Arab Republic is an irrelevancy.”

      Good to hear that Israel doesn’t need Egypt’s cooperation to control Gaza’s borders. When can we expected an unrestricted flow of goods and people in and out of Gaza via Egypt according to your expert analysis?

      American Perspective: “about the far-right Arab nationalist cause.”

      The only ‘far-right nationalist cause’ in hist. Palestine is Zionist settler colonialism after Wilson introduced the principle of self determination for the natives of a country. The British Mandate for Palestine was an absolut far fight nationalist perversion of the Mandate system including their total disregard to follow the wishes of the people of Palestine regarding their choice that the US should have the mandate. Compare the British perversion to French mandates in which the states became independent within a couple of years and without being colonized. You talk about democracy but would have never endorsed for Palestine to become independent before in the 1920s. You are just another Zionist hypocrit.

      • American Perspective
        American Perspective
        August 19, 2018, 8:03 pm

        “You talk about democracy” – when have I talked about democracy? That’s what left-wing supporters of Israel in the United States present as a selling-point for pro-Israel folks in the Democrat Party. Our treaty ally Turkey, our military coalition with Saudi Arabia, our economic relationship with the People’s Republic – all of that hums along just fine on a realpolitik basis. Just ask Tsipras about his relationship with Netanyahu. Democracy is a non-issue in international relations.

        Of course, some versions of Democracy are cute. But on the whole has been a severe liability for Israel and the hardcore civil libertarian attitudes prevalent now in Israel are unlikely to survive the coming wars. Kal v’chomer, Israel doesn’t care about the form of government the Arab Republic chooses for herself; this writer is delusional if she thinks anyone in Israel gives a hoot.

        “every Nonjew who is killed by Zionists is called a “terrorist” or a ‘soldier’ post mortem to justify his/her killing. But as usual they fail to justify why it was necessary to kill them. ”

        Exactly. And because of Captain Underpant’s delusions about the Southern Command, 160 irregulars died for absolutely no good reason. If all y’all had bothered to understand your enemy, those soldiers would still be alive to fight another day.

        That’s why it is so important to understand material reality.

        If folks listened to this author – who yearns for an unprecedented civilian coup against the Arab Republican army, and seems to favor some sort of anarcho-syndicalist future for Egypt – millions will die. The Arab Republic faces mass starvation because of the unnecessary wars and lunatic economic policies that the State of Palestine imposed on Egypt. Hasn’t the State of Palestine destroyed enough? Does Palestine really need to kill millions of Egyptians in order to get even more undeserved attention on the international stage? Don’t you far-right Arab nationalists ever think about the human costs of your policies?

      • oldgeezer
        oldgeezer
        August 19, 2018, 8:37 pm

        @American Perspective

        I’m all for reality. Yep it’s the Palestinians.

        text http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Fn36l_z3WY

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        August 19, 2018, 9:10 pm

        “The Arab Republic faces mass starvation because of the unnecessary wars and lunatic economic policies that the State of Palestine imposed on Egypt. Hasn’t the State of Palestine destroyed enough? Does Palestine really need to kill millions of Egyptians in order to get even more undeserved attention on the international stage?” “American Perspective”

        “Talkback”, I ask you, does this “AP” make a whole lotta down-home sense, or does he not?

      • Talkback
        Talkback
        August 20, 2018, 2:59 pm

        American Perspective: “Exactly. And because of Captain Underpant’s delusions about the Southern Command, 160 irregulars died for absolutely no good reason.”

        Yep. “irregular” is another post mortem description do justify Israel’s killings. Again: But as usual they fail to justify why it was necessary to kill them. The only justified reason to use lethal means is because there is no other way to protect yourself from getting killed. It would be another delusion to claim that this is exactly the situation Israel’s “soldiers” are facing.

        American Perspective: “The Arab Republic faces mass starvation because of the unnecessary wars and lunatic economic policies that the State of Palestine imposed on Egypt. Hasn’t the State of Palestine destroyed enough?”

        It may be different in the Kahane Continuum, but in this universe the State of Palestine didn’t go to war or imposed ” lunatic economic policies” on Egypt or destroyed anything. In this universe Israel attacked Egypt in 1956 and 1967 which wasn’t necessary at all. It destroyed Palestine and imposes war crime policies unto the Palestinians.

        American Perspective: “Don’t you far-right Arab nationalists ever think about the human costs of your policies?”

        You seem to be highly cnfused. I’m neither an Arab, nor “far-right”. Do you need to distract from the fact that you are a far right Zionist who doesn’t give a sh** when it comes to the human costs of Zionist policies?

      • Talkback
        Talkback
        August 20, 2018, 3:02 pm

        Mooser: ““Talkback”, I ask you, does this “AP” make a whole lotta down-home sense, or does he not?”

        It makes sense in the Kahane continuum of brainless colonials.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        August 20, 2018, 4:59 pm

        “It makes sense in the Kahane continuum of brainless colonials.”

        Gee, I wonder if “AP” knows that, or if he thought all this out on his own?

      • Talkback
        Talkback
        August 21, 2018, 7:17 am

        Mooser: “Gee, I wonder if “AP” knows that, or if he thought all this out on his own?”

        It might be epidemic. Any information on J.G.D. or the CDC?

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        August 21, 2018, 1:01 pm

        “It might be epidemic. Any information on J.G.D. or the CDC?”

        “Talkback” believe me, that much about it, I don’t want to know. (I’m pretty much a nurture guy in the nature-vs-nurture debate, anyway)

  6. Mooser
    Mooser
    August 17, 2018, 7:12 pm

    ” the far-right Arab nationalist cause.”

    “Far-right Arab nationalist cause”? Oh, I see:

    “Just look at the mess that you Arab nationalists made of the world (and note in particular the putrid alliances, military adventures, hegemonic overreach, and suffering inflicted by the State of Palestine) which negates any claim by an Arab nationalist to complain about what Israelis or Zionists did or did not do.

    You do know that from the mid-1920s and onward, the Arab nationalists have ruled the most violent European political movements, right?”

    • American Perspective
      American Perspective
      August 19, 2018, 8:18 pm

      An overriding obsession with race purity. A foreign and domestic policy dictated solely by military and economic power. Strict, patriarchal hierarchies enforced by a police state. Convergence of religion and state. A political ideology developed in the fascist heyday and explicitly modeled on 1940’s-era Nazi Arabia.

      What aspect of Arab nationalism – at least as it is practiced in the United States and Palestine – is *not* far-right?

  7. dionissis_mitropoulos
    dionissis_mitropoulos
    August 17, 2018, 7:36 pm

    In this great post Mr North said:

    “Kirkpatrick shows how the Sisi regime has sunk into mega-corruption, instead of squarely facing Egypt’s chronic economic and social crisis.”

    That was my impression too, that Egypt is a kleptocracy run by the Egyptian Army, and that the Army has become so entrenched in the economy now under Sis’s dictatorship that it will be almost impossible in the future for Egypt to return to democracy – the Army won’t allow it, and it will be extremely destabilizing to try to force the Army out of the economy.

    I have no knowledge of any details, but here are two links corroborating this corruption of the kleptocratic dictatorship of Sisi. I quote from the Economist how the Army profits from mega-projects:

    https://www.economist.com/middle-east-and-africa/2018/02/10/what-fuel-bread-and-water-reveal-about-how-egypt-is-mismanaged?cid1=cust/ednew/n/bl/n/2018028n/owned/n/n/nwl/n/n/eu/97473/n

    “Egypt will struggle to prosper so long as it is run by soldiers. Their instinct is to give orders and expect market forces to salute. Some turn power into rents. For example: the army is building lots of new roads, often without open tenders. For 21 of them, it has claimed the land for 2km on either side. Anyone who wants to open a shop by a new highway will have to pay the men in khaki.”

    Not that all the mega projects are needed, as we learn from the Financial Times:

    https://www.ft.com/content/8127ef6e-c38e-11e6-9bca-2b93a6856354

    “Mr Sisi has relied on the army to manage national projects that he sees as morale boosters, such as the expansion of the Suez Canal and the building of a new capital city — neither of which the business community finds necessary.

    But then, mega projects offer easy money for the Army, especially if it’s Army owned companies that are going to profit from the mega-projects:

    https://www.ft.com/content/8127ef6e-c38e-11e6-9bca-2b93a6856354

    “The army, which has long owned some businesses, is expanding its footprint with a new law allowing it to partner local and foreign companies. New military-owned factories have sprung up over the past two years, including in the cement and steel sectors.”

    To the extent that Israel is responsible for the establishment of Sisi’s dictatorship (by persuading (after the coup) Obama to support the dictator Sisi, Israel is responsible to that extent for the Army’s entrenchment in the Egyptian economy. And given that this entrenchment might be the factor that prevents Egypt from ever returning to democracy, Israel is responsible for Egypt’s future eternal dictatorship.

    • catalan
      catalan
      August 17, 2018, 8:02 pm

      “Israel is responsible for Egypt’s future eternal dictatorship.” Dionissis
      Little country, big footprint. They can pick and choose the governing elites in Egypt and presumably the rest of the Arab world. And yet there is general agreement that they are “doomed”. Confusing.

      • dionissis_mitropoulos
        dionissis_mitropoulos
        August 17, 2018, 10:07 pm

        hi catalan, i’m not sure which claim of mine, exactly, you are disputing — if any.

    • dionissis_mitropoulos
      dionissis_mitropoulos
      August 18, 2018, 10:39 am

      Given that I am blaming Israel for indirectly enabling the Egyptian Army entrench its kleptocratic stranglehold over the Egyptian economy, let me post one more link as evidence for this increased Army presence in the economy:

      https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/09/sisi-defends-egyptian-army-economic-instrusion-160926184244188.html

      “The military has significantly broadened its economic profile in the three years since the overthrow of president Mohamed Morsi, the country’s first freely elected leader. Today it supervises massive infrastructure projects and runs a retail network that distributes food at discounted prices.”

      And one more corroboration that the Army’s kleptocratic role in the economy has vastly increased, I quote from INSS, Israel’s leading think tank on security matters:

      http://www.inss.org.il/publication/egypt-rearms/?offset=2&posts=55&outher=Yiftah%20Shapir

      “Consequently, the share of the Egyptian armed forces in the Egyptian economy — which was already considerable long before el-Sisi assumed power – has increased a
      great deal.”

      If I understand correctly what’s behind the lines in the following Times of Israel link, dictator Sisi needs to bribe the Army with this increased role in the economy because the Army is his sole major backer:

      https://www.timesofisrael.com/food-cart-shut-down-ask-egypts-president/

      “El-Sissi does not hide his disdain for politics and does not have a political party, a contrast to Mubarak, whose ruling party was a tool for enforcing loyalty in the government and the streets.
      Instead, the military remains el-Sissi’s main arm. He has expanded the military’s role in the economy, bringing it into new fields of manufacturing and infrastructure construction — so much so that some complain private investors are at a disadvantage.”

      Therefore Sisi bribes the Army with various mega projetcts:

      http://www.inss.org.il/publication/egypt-rearms/?offset=2&posts=55&outher=Yiftah%20Shapir

      “mega projects…
      …a planned new capital for Egypt (at a cost of $300 billion), and a new economic zone along the Suez Canal that will compete with Dubai or Singapore as a world trade hub. Also, el-Sisi announced the construction of 6000 kilometers of roads, 113 bridges, and three airports.

      All these mega projects are run by the military – sometimes directly and sometimes through joint ventures with large local or foreign companies and military-owned enterprises.”

      Now, any Egyptian might wish to ask her President Sisi: “how do we know that all this money we spend on mega projects is for necessary projects, and not merely an excuse to construct for construction’s sake so as transfer state funds to your favourite military companies? And even for those mega projects that are necessary, how do we know that the military companies we pay were the least expensive choice for the State funds”?

      At this point I’m guessing President Sisi would throw another tandrum like the one he threw below:

      https://www.ft.com/content/8127ef6e-c38e-11e6-9bca-2b93a6856354

      “In the interview, Mr Sisi is indignant at the suggestion the army could be looking to profit from business. “The Egyptian military is sparing no effort to help the country. It is so dangerous to accuse it of such things [Sisi said].”

      But he can also explain that he won’t answer such impudent questions about the finances of the state and the Army companies because he cannot reveal such top secret information. I kid you not:

      http://www.inss.org.il/publication/egypt-rearms/?offset=2&posts=55&outher=Yiftah%20Shapir

      “Assigning projects to the armed forces also prevents any scrutiny and precludes any open discussion as to the merits or management of these projects, as the military classifies any information regarding its economic activities as top secret.”

      President Sisi, it could be you the champion of the world!!!

  8. annie
    annie
    August 18, 2018, 1:43 pm

    thanks james, rrrreally interesting!

  9. Maghlawatan
    Maghlawatan
    August 19, 2018, 9:16 pm

    Shangri La is where the prayers have power and Jewish fingernails are worth more than anything. The site also has neighbors and one of them is Egypt. Can’t let the people run it. Egypt has been muzzled since 1979. It is a powder keg.
    One of the times the Temple was destroyed it was destroyed by Egyptians. Worth remembering.

  10. IMDB-Arabic
    IMDB-Arabic
    August 22, 2018, 4:54 am

    As any reasonably well informed knows, the entity known as “Israel” is a political structure in which the state apparatus is appropriated by a dominant ethnic group to further its interests, power and resources.

    team work
    http://www.imdb-arabic.com

  11. Jackdaw
    Jackdaw
    August 23, 2018, 3:12 pm

    “…U.S. betrayed democracy in Egypt.”

    No, the Egyptian ‘street’ betrayed democracy when they came out in support of either the military, or the Ikhwan.

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