Barry Rubin: Who Rules Egypt? The Battle Begins
Another such situation: economic issues. Al-Mursi’s spokesman says he will put the emphasis on making Egypt into a strong economy. Since this is impossible, al-Mursi is more likely to follow a populist approach: big promises, phony jobs, strong subsidies to keep consumer goods cheap. All of that spells more debt. And foreigners will be asked to pay the bills.
Lenin once reportedly said that he would get the capitalists to sell him the rope with which to hang them. But Egypt is a far clearer case of such a situation. Will the dhimmis finance the consolidation of the Muslim Brotherhood’s power in Egypt? It sure looks like that will happen, though they probably will be cheap about it.
Never forget that since any economic program in Egypt is doomed to fail, the ultimate outcome will probably be a government having to decide between repression at home, hysterical hatred and foreign adventures abroad, or both.
FP: Like I told you.
And in what should be a very important lesson and a huge media story, a Brotherhood leader has spilled the beans about Wael Ghonim. The Google executive was portrayed as the very model of a moderate liberal Egyptian during the “revolution.” Ghonim publicly announced that he voted for al-Mursi in the presidential election.
Now, veteran Egypt-watcher Raymond Stock points out that Essam el-Erian said Ghonim has been a Brotherhood member for a while. Equally significant, el-Erian added that Abdel-Rahman Mansour is still a Brotherhood member. As Stock explains:
These are reputedly the two most important figures behind the famous social media side of the revolt.
The Brotherhood has frequently praised both men, though it has made clear they should not be given any real authority or influence. Stock added:
This information completely destroys the fiction that there is a clear separation between the “secular-liberal youth” cadre and the Islamists. Essentially, El-Erian is bragging none too subtly that the Muslim Brotherhood played a key role in launching the uprising.
They did, however, leave the initial leadership and planning to others for the first few days.
Meanwhile, the third leading “secular” activist who led the revolution, Asma Mahfouz — who always wears a burqa — often sounds like an Islamist as well. In her latest interview — though the reporter and viewers are given no hint of this — she is standing in front of a poster that has a scorpion on it. The head is that of Ahmad Shafiq, the presidential candidate who opposed al-Mursi. Overthrown President Hosni Mubarak is the stinger. An Israeli Star of David is imposed on Shafiq to present him as the puppet of the evil Zionists.
Can you imagine what these people will do with the appeasing, clueless, wishful thinking, declining West?
Bill Katz: PATHETIC
In our post below we suggested the possibility that we could lose, and lose big, in the Iran negotiations, with Iran getting the bomb. Speaking of losing, a comment by Hillary Clinton indicates just how much influence we've lost in the Mideast since Barack Obama came to office. When is the last time you heard an American secretary of state say something like this?
Geneva, Switzerland (CNN) -- There is no guarantee that a sweeping new international agreement on Syria will succeed in ending the conflict there, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton conceded, as opposition activists said the number of dead had skyrocketed in recent months.
"There is no guarantee that we are going to be successful. I just hate to say that," Clinton told CNN.
But she expressed optimism that a new agreement hammered out Saturday would help ease President Bashar al-Assad out of power.
There is no basis for her optimism. This "agreement" is a watered-down joke with no teeth.
The first plan backed by Russia and China as well as the West, it calls for a transitional government as a step towards ending the 16-month uprising.
Opposition activists immediately criticized the deal as leaving open the possibility that al-Assad would remain in power.
"The new agreement provides vague language which is open to interpretation," the opposition Local Coordination Committees of Syria said in a statement Sunday. "This provides yet another opportunity for the regime's thugs to play their favorite game in utilizing time in order to stop the popular Syrian Revolution and extinguish it with violence and massacres across Syria."
A spokesman for the Syrian National Council, a main political opposition group, similarly slammed the agreement.
"We are afraid that the decision of the Geneva convention might give signs and gestures to the Syrian regime that it is acceptable and a legitimate cover to continue killing the people, and committing more massacres," Muhammad Farmini told CNN.
COMMENT: Once again, the key man is Barack Obama, because the president of the United States is always the key man. And once again Obama is ducking. He has no real policy in Syria, the Russians and Chinese will agree only to meaningless words, and the murders are continuing.
And this president has the nerve to go to the American people and boast of his "successes" in foreign policy. Name one.
Oh yes, oh yes, he "got" bin Laden. Strange, I thought it was the Navy SEALs who got bin Laden. I guess, like Humphrey Bogart in "Casablanca," I was misinformed.
Syria, like Iran, is at the end game, or at least approaching it. If the killing goes on, and Assad stays in power, it will be a massive defeat for us, and a victory for both Russia and Iran, both of whom support the Assad regime.
FP: America has become irrelevant.
Martin Sherman: Barack Hussein Obama: A view from Israel
That said, I am convinced that his reelection for a second term is liable to be a disaster of epic proportions – with incalculable, probably irreversible, repercussions for both Israel and for US interests, at least as they have been commonly perceived.
His perception of the international role the US should play, the nature of its interests and the manner in which they should be pursued seems to be a dramatic departure from that of most of his predecessors, including a deepseated belief that Islam is not inherently inimical to American values.
There is, thus, a distinct possibility that Israel could face a second-term president who is fundamentally unmoored from America’s Judeo-Christian heritage, a heritage, which despite occasional periods of tensions, was for decades the elemental underpinning of the relationship between the two countries.
The prospect of a White House incumbent with an inherent affinity for Israel’s adversaries and unshackled by considerations of reelection is one that must be considered with the utmost seriousness.
How to contend with such a dire eventually will be taken up in a forthcoming column.
FP: A realignment with Islam, just as I argued.
Jonathan Tobin: Iran Worried? Obama Guts Sanctions
Three rounds of the P5+1 nuclear talks with Iran have proven President Obama’s “window of diplomacy” a colossal failure. But Secretary of State Clinton as well as various administration cheerleaders have been reminding us lately that the international sanctions on Tehran that have been belatedly put in place are just about to really bite. At the end of the month, the West will impose an oil embargo on Iran that could really hurt its economy and perhaps bring the regime to its knees if it is universally observed and vigorously enforced.
But today’s announcement that the Obama administration will grant China and Singapore a six-month exemption from the sanctions shows the confident manner the Iranians displayed at the nuclear talks was not a false front. Having forearmed themselves in the period leading up to the sanctions by securing more contracts with the Chinese, Iran dared the Americans to risk a confrontation with Beijing. The result is that Tehran’s belief President Obama and his Western allies are bluffing has been confirmed rather than debunked. This will act as a virtual green light for the Iranians to keep pushing ahead toward their nuclear goal while Western leaders posture but do little to stop them.
The dirty secret about the Western sanctions on Iran is that their leader advocate has never bothered to enforce them. The weak sanctions that were in place were selectively policed by the United States, with the Treasury Department granting exemptions to thousands of firms that allowed them to go on doing business there. But that is nothing when compared to giving China and Singapore, two of Iran’s major business partners, a free pass to conduct business as usual.
FP: The US has become almost irrelevant to international matters.
Rajan Menon: Libya in Chaos
The plight of Qaddafi fils won’t elicit much pity, certainly among Libyans, but it does illustrate postrevolutionary Libya’s principal problem: an ineffectual central government that has neither the power nor the legitimacy to rein in the country’s rampant localism. The localism pits militia against militia, East against West, tribe against tribe and ethnic group against ethnic group, giving a new, though pernicious, meaning to former House Speaker Tip O’Neill’s quip that “all politics is local.”
FP: Arabs in their natural state. Will the West understand why all Arab countries were dictatorships? I doubt it.
President-elect Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood pre-empted the military's choreographed swearing-in ceremony by taking his oath of office a day early in a televised speech to hundreds of thousands of supporters in Tahrir Square on Friday. But his rousing tribute to Egyptian sovereignty may be overshadowed by a promise likely to complicate relations with the United States: to work for the release of the Egyptian-born Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, jailed for plotting to bomb a series of New York City landmarks.
The comments appeared to come almost offhandedly in the context of a vow to free Egyptian civilians imprisoned here after military trials during the transition after the ouster of Hosni Mubarak.
"I see signs for Omar Abdel Rahman and detainees' pictures," he said, referring to placards held by the crowd. "It is my duty and I will make all efforts to have them free, including Omar Abdel Rahman."
FP: The other day I commented on a read that claimed the US wants to make a strong impression on Morsi. So why not release the sheik—that’ll make a strong impression: that Americans are fools.