Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Muslim Brotherhood in Retreat, Part 3

Egypt's Beleaguered Muslim Brotherhood
- Hamza Hendawi & Maggie Michael

The Muslim Brotherhood's decision to play hardball after the military's ouster of Egypt's Islamist president has backfired, leaving it with unattractive choices: aligning with hard-line groups in an insurgency that almost certainly will fail or going underground in the hope of resurfacing one day. The Brotherhood's grim future will impact Islamic groups across the Middle East. Egypt's Brotherhood is something of a "mother ship" that has inspired their creation and provided a role model of the political Islam they want to prevail.

Hundreds of Brotherhood leaders and supporters have been detained in the crackdown, crippling the group's command structure and demoralizing loyalists and sympathizers. Pro-Morsi demonstrations in Cairo and elsewhere in Egypt have diminished since last week's deadly clashes, with only a few hundred or even dozens showing up for protests after the government authorized the use of deadly force against protesters last week.

However, Raafat Sayed Ahmed, head of the Yafa Center for Arab Studies, predicted the group will continue to show a measure of resistance so long as its sources of funding are left untouched by authorities. He predicted the Brotherhood will join an insurgency already underway in Sinai, while simultaneously starting another in southern Egypt, where the Brotherhood and Gamaa Islamiyah, an allied hard-line organization with a history of violence, enjoy significant influence.

Sisi Is Preventing Egypt from Turning into Iran - Lahav Harkov

Former defense minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer said Monday that deposed Egyptian Islamist president Mohamed Morsi was "trying to lead Egypt to be something similar to Iran." Egyptian General "Sisi wouldn't have made this move if he didn't have the backing of most, about 80%, of the Egyptian people," he added.
(Jerusalem Post)

Ties with Egypt Army Constrain Washington
- Thom Shanker and Eric Schmitt

Most nations, including many close allies of the U.S., require up to a week's notice before American warplanes are allowed to cross their territory. Not Egypt, which offers near-automatic approval for military overflights, to resupply the war effort in Afghanistan or to carry out counterterrorism operations in the Middle East, Southwest Asia or the Horn of Africa. American warships are also allowed to cut to the front of the line through the Suez Canal in times of crisis. Those are some of the largely invisible ways the Egyptian military has assisted the U.S. - and why the generals now in charge in Cairo are not without their own leverage in dealing with Washington.

"We need them for the Suez Canal, we need them for the peace treaty with Israel, we need them for the overflights, and we need them for the continued fight against violent extremists who are as much of a threat to Egypt's transition to democracy as they are to American interests," said Gen. James N. Mattis, who retired this year as head of U.S. Central Command.
(New York Times)

It's Time to Hold Our Nose and Back Egypt's Military - Leslie H. Gelb

Let's get real and tamp down the moral posturing about democracy in Egypt. Freely elected President Morsi and his now-deposed Muslim Brotherhood government weren't practicing democracy. They were co-opting the laws and slowly destroying all possible opposition. Besides, they were aligning with America's jihadist enemies in Syria, Gaza, and elsewhere. The U.S. has little or no chance of saving Egypt for democracy if the Islamists return to power.
The worst thing we could do would be to cut off military assistance, thereby humiliating the Egyptian government and driving the relationship into crisis. 
(Daily Beast)

Cold Calculation in Egypt - Editorial
  • The U.S. shouldn't cut off aid to Egypt. Despite the brutality of the military regime, Washington cannot back away from the nation at the heart of the Arab world. The generals haven't listened and probably won't listen to American entreaties for military restraint in pursuing Muslim Brotherhood militants. The generals won't again surrender Egypt to Islamic extremists.
  • A stable Egypt, an Egypt at peace with Israel, an Egypt that thrives economically, is crucial to American interests in the region. An Egypt that instead slides into civil war becomes a fertile recruiting ground for jihadists.
  • We don't pick the leaders of Egypt. Egyptians do - and not always at the ballot box. Walking away from the most populous Arab country, which sits at one of the Earth's most important geopolitical locations, would be the worst of many bad alternatives.
  • Morsi aggressively expanded his powers and protected the Islamist-dominated constitutional assembly from judicial oversight. He ignored vital secular groups and persecuted political opponents. He sidled up to the terrorists of Hamas in Gaza and welcomed then-Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
(Chicago Tribune)

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