The Muslim Brotherhood is out in Egypt for Ruling against the Will of the People

Posted by PITHOCRATES - July 4th, 2013

Politics 101

The Muslim Brotherhood did not like Hosni Mubarak or Peace in the Middle East

President Mohammed Morsi is no longer president of Egypt.  Thanks to a bloodless military coup.  Why did the military do this?  Is there some power-hungry general that wanted to become dictator?  No.  The army stepped in to prevent the country from degenerating into civil war.  As the people were unhappy.  And angry.  Filling Tahrir Square.  Protesting the rule of President Morsi.  Just as they protested the rule of Hosni Mubarak.  Back during the Arab Spring.  When democracy was flowering all over the Arab world.

The people were unhappy with Hosni Mubarak because of soaring unemployment.  And his oppressive police state.  To name two things.  The people wanted jobs.  And liberty.  So they demanded democracy.  And got it.  They had free elections.  And the people chose their new leader.  Mohammed Morsi.  Who since becoming president did nothing to improve the employment picture.  And seemed more interested in imposing Sharia law on the Egyptian people than liberty.  In fact, he seemed more interested in restricting liberty.  Especially for Coptic Christians.  And women.

Mubarak’s police state did a lot to suppress the Muslim Brotherhood.  President Morsi’s party.  The Muslim Brotherhood also wanted to impose Sharia law on the Egyptian people.  And did not like Hosni Mubarak for making peace with Israel.  Being secular.  Making it harder to smuggle arms into the Gaza Strip to their friend.  The terrorist group Hamas.  A militant Palestinian Islamic movement dedicated to the destruction of Israel.  And member of the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.  So the Brotherhood was no friend of peace in the Middle East.  Or secularism.  Which is why Mubarak brutally suppressed the Muslim Brotherhood.  But now the Brotherhood was in power.  And they would have their revenge.  As they put Egypt on the road to Sharia law.

Both the Nazis and the Muslim Brotherhood lied to Rise to Power

Hosni Mubarak was a friend to America.  Israel.  And Middle East peace.  He had his faults.  But he was so critical to peace and stability in the region the United States and their friends and allies should have tried to help Mubarak reform Egypt.  Instead of throwing him under the bus.  Like President Obama did.  Who spent his political career bashing George W. Bush for trying to bring democracy to the Middle East.  And here he was.  President Obama.  Trying to bring democracy to Egypt.  Telling our friend and ally, Hosni Mubarak, he had to go.  When the only opposition party in Egypt was the friend of Hamas and Iran.  The Muslim Brotherhood.

The conservatives warned President Obama about letting the Muslim Brotherhood rise to power.  That it was not in America’s best interests.  Israel’s.  Or the Middle East’s.  And the Brotherhood knew the Americans and Israelis and the West in general were uncomfortable with them in power.  So to appease everyone they said not to worry.  They weren’t interested in rising to power.  And they wouldn’t run for the presidency.  They just wanted to help the nation they loved, Egypt, to be free.  That’s all.  But then one thing led to another.  And the Muslim Brotherhood rose to power.  With one of their own becoming president.  Just like conservatives warned would happen.  And the Brotherhood promised wouldn’t happen.  So what happened?

The Muslim Brotherhood, of course, lied.  That’s how you rise to power when you want to change the country against the will of the people.  Adolf Hitler didn’t rise to power through a military coup.  The Nazis won elections.  They didn’t campaign on the truth.  They didn’t tell the people that they were going to invade Poland, Norway, North Africa, the Low Countries, France, Greece, the Soviet Union, etc.  That they were going to build death camps.  Or use a brutal secret police (the Gestapo) to terrorize their own people.  For these aren’t the kinds of things people vote for.  So you lie to the people.  And say you want to do other things.  Not the things people warned would happen if the Nazis rose to power.  Especially those who read Mein Kampf.  Where Hitler himself told the world what he planned on doing.  It was all there.  All you had to do was read his book.

Candidates who Promise Everything typically want to Change the Country Against the Will of the People

Iranian students protested the Shah of Iran.  Just like the Egyptians protested Hosni Mubarak.  Men and women.  Including a lot of college graduates who could not find any work with their new degrees.  They blamed the Shah.  Another friend and ally of the United States.  They demanded jobs.  And liberty.  A democracy of the people.  And that’s exactly what they got.  Then they voted for an Islamic republic.  And those people who protested to overthrow the Shah lost everything they wanted.  Especially the women.  Who had fewer liberties after the Iranian Revolution than they had under the Shah of Iran.  During the elections the Islamists didn’t say they were going to do this.  For people demanding liberty and jobs are not going to vote for someone promising to take away even more of their liberties.  So they lied.  Allowing them to rise to power.  To change the country against the will of the people.

Removing the Muslim Brotherhood from power is good for the United States.  For Israel.  And for peace in the Middle East.  Because with the Muslim Brotherhood in power Iran had a good friend in Egypt.  To help expand their hegemony in the region.  Shiite rule in a predominantly Sunni area.  And what was once a more secular area.  Before the Arab Spring.  Some expressed concern about the military removing a democratically elected president.  Of course they must express this publically.  Especially when they’re trying to spread democracy.  But there is a difference between good democracy and bad democracy.  Bad democracy is the kind that is only transitory.  A tool.  A means to an end.  When you want to change a country against the will of the people.  And once you achieve the end you can dispose of that ridiculous thing called democracy.  Like the Nazis did.  Like the Iranians did.  And like the Muslim Brotherhood was well along the way in doing.

This is something people need to learn.  Not to trust those running for office.  Especially those who promise everything the people want.  You see, there is a reason why the people don’t have everything they want.  It’s just not possible.  It’s too costly.  And you just can’t please everyone.  So no matter how much you give the people there will still be some who want something else.  Always.  Which is good for people running for office.  As they always have something to lie about.  That is, to make a promise they can’t keep.  Or simply have no intention of keeping.  Because they want to change the country against the will of the people.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

Share

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Since the Arab Spring in Egypt Women have been Attacked, Groped and Stripped of their Clothes

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 21st, 2012

Week in Review

In 1979 Iranian college students, including women, overthrew the Shah of Iran.  For these young women who were going to college, or recently graduated from college, thought the world looked bleak under the Shah of Iran.  So they had a mini Arab Spring.  To help sweep in democracy.  To throw out the tyrant.  So these women living in a fairly Westernized Islamic Arab country could more fully enjoy their lives.  Well, they got their wish.  They deposed the Shah.  And within a year or so found themselves in an Islamist nation living under Sharia law.  The Western freedoms they once enjoyed were gone.  And here we are some 30 years later and Iran is still an Islamist nation living under Sharia law.  Where women enjoy no Western freedoms like going to college.  Or wearing blue jeans.  No doubt those former college protesters regret their actions of some 30 years ago.  Because truth be told things were not that bad under the Shah of Iran.  Especially if you were a woman.  For it sure was a lot better than what women enjoy today in Iran.

Fast forward to 2011 in Egypt and the exact same thing happened.  College students, including women, in a fairly Westernized Islamic Arab country did exactly what the college kids did in Iran.  Even President Obama asked our staunch friend and ally, Hosni Mubarak, to step down from power.  For it was the Arab Spring.  And democracy was flourishing.  Abandoned and isolated and not wishing to turn his army on his people like Muammar Gaddafi did in Libya or Bashar al-Assad has and is doing in Syria, Mubarak stepped down peacefully.  And now the Muslim Brotherhood is in power.  And they’re talking about installing an Islamist government ruled under strict Sharia Law.  Just like their friends did in Iran some 30 years earlier.  No doubt these college protesters regret their recent actions.  Because truth be told things were not that bad under Hosni Mubarak.  Especially if you were a woman.  For it sure was a lot better than what women enjoy today in Egypt.

So exactly how are things for women in Egypt these days?  Not great (see Female reporter ‘savagely attacked and groped’ in Cairo during live broadcast for French TV news channel by Daily Mail Reporter posted 10/20/2012 on the Daily Mail).

A correspondent for France 24 TV was ‘savagely attacked’ near Cairo’s Tahrir Square after being seized by a crowd, the network said on Saturday.

The news channel said in a statement that Sonia Dridi was attacked around 10:30pm on Friday after a live broadcast on a protest at the square and was later rescued by a colleague and other witnesses.

It was the latest case of violence against women at the epicenter of Egypt’s restive protests…

Tahrir Square was the main hub of a popular uprising that toppled longtime Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak last year. Since then, it has seen numerous other protests staged by a range of groups.

At the height of the uprising against Mubarak, Lara Logan, a correspondent for U.S. network CBS, was sexually assaulted and beaten in Tahrir Square.

She said later that she believed she was going to die. After being rescued, Logan returned to the United States and was treated in a hospital for four days.

The square has seen a rise in attacks against women since protesters returned this summer for new rallies, including incidents of attackers stripping women – both fellow demonstrators and journalists – of their clothes.

No official numbers exist for attacks on women in the square because police do not go near the area and women rarely file official reports on such incidents, but activists and protesters have reported an increase in assaults against women.

And although sexual harassment is not new to Egypt, suspicions abound that many of the recent attacks are organized by opponents of various protests in a bid to drive people away.

Amnesty International said in a report in June that such attacks appeared designed to intimidate women and prevent them from fully participating in public life.

Islamist nations that have or are trying to implement Sharia law don’t like women having any freedoms they enjoy in Western nations.  This is no surprise.  And was no secret.  Abandoning Mubarak was a great foreign policy blunder.  Leaving the Middle East a more dangerous place.  Ditto for Libya.  Muammar Gaddafi was no longer a great threat to US security interests.  And was even suppressing radical Islamist elements within Libya.  Supporting the al-Qaeda connected opposition in the Libyan civil war was another US foreign policy blunder.  Leaving Libya a more dangerous place.  Resulting in the death of the US ambassador and three other Americans.  Who were left in a hostile and dangerous country without adequate protection we’ve recently learned.  Who asked for more security forces but were denied.  As it wouldn’t look good for a president running for reelection on a foreign policy success of killing Osama bin Laden and defeating al Qaeda.

Bad foreign policy.  Driven by domestic politics.  Not the reality of geopolitics.  Four Americans are dead.  And millions of women in the Middle East are condemned to a life of subservience and oppression.  Where a 14 year old girl in Pakistan gets shot in the head because she wants to go to school and get an education.  So she can be something other than subservient and oppressed.  But the Taliban saw it differently.  And shot her as a message to other women who dared to think they had a choice in their life.

Compare this life to the brutal war on women in the United States.  As the great misogynist, Mitt Romney, shows his hatred and utter contempt for women by keeping resumes for women that were seeking a position is his administration when he was governor of Massachusetts in a binder.  Shocking, yes?  A binder!  And you thought the Taliban/al Qaeda war on women was bad.  Yes, they may beat, strip, rape, shoot and kill women.  But they don’t organize resumes in a binder.  Not like Republican Mitt Romney.  Who they will attack as if he is evil incarnate.  But they won’t say a word about the Islamist war on women.  Or the bad American foreign policy that just condemned more of their Muslim sisters to further subservience and oppression.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

Share

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The new Egyptian Government may be Islamist and more Oppressive than the Mubarak Regime

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 8th, 2012

Week in Review

Egypt is changing.  And not the way the college students and protesters had hoped when they rose up against Hosni Mubarak.  Much like similar protesters were to be disappointed during the Iranian Revolution (see Seeking support amid Islamist split, Egypt’s Brotherhood promises Muslim clerics say in power by the Associated Press posted 4/4/2012 on The Washington Post).

The Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate for Egypt’s presidency is lobbying hard for support of ultraconservative Muslim clerics, promising them a say over legislation in the future to ensure it is in line with Islamic law, as he tries to rally the divided Islamist vote behind him…

Giving Muslim clerics a direct say over legislation would be unprecedented in Egypt. Specifics of the Brotherhood promise, which Salafi clerics said Wednesday the candidate Khairat el-Shater gave them in a backroom meeting, were not known. But any clerical role would certainly raise a backlash from liberal and moderate Egyptians who already fear Islamists will sharply restrict civil rights as they gain political power after the fall last year of President Hosni Mubarak.

Unprecedented in Egypt, perhaps.  But very much expected as it is exactly what happened following the Iranian Revolution.  And not just a little like it but a lot like it.  The Shah of Iran was a little too friendly to the West.  So young college students and ‘reformers’ overthrew the ruthless dictator that was keeping them freer than they had the good sense to know.  By preventing the rise of Islamic fundamentalism.  The clerics kept promising that they didn’t want Sharia law.  Until they didn’t have to promise it anymore.  After they had subjected all Iranians to Sharia law.  Those college students went on to miss that ruthless dictator.  The Shah of Iran.  And the freedoms they once enjoyed under him.

Salafis are the most hard-line of Egypt’s fundamentalists, depicting themselves as the “guardians of Shariah” and touting a strict interpretation of Islamic law similar to Saudi Arabia’s. Many of them see the Brotherhood as too willing to compromise on implementing Shariah and despise its political pragmatism.

Like Saudi Arabia?  Yeah, we wish.  Saudi Arabia is a friend and ally of the U.S. whose interests in the regions are peace and stability.  Yes, let’s hope that if Egypt goes Islamic that it is another Sunni Saudi Arabia and not another Shiite Iran.  Who has but one goal.  The destruction of Israel, the United States and all other Western interests that don’t condemn Israel or the United States.  The Iranians support terrorist organizations that disrupt peace and stability.  The Saudis don’t.  Yes, Osama bin Laden’s funding came from the Wahhabi in Saudi Arabia.  But the Saudis didn’t sponsor them.  They feared them.  For the Wahhabi hate the House of Saud as much as they hate the Americans.  Which makes them very much unlike Iran.  And far more preferable than Iran.  For any government that is hated by extreme Islamists has to be better than an extreme Islamists.

Mohammed Habib, who was the Brotherhood’s deputy leader at that time, says the platform item was for a body of clerics simply to advise lawmakers, but that some in the group wanted it to have a more powerful role to vet legislation…

Tharwat el-Kherbawi, a former Brotherhood member who fell out with the group, said the council appeared similar to Iran’s system of clerical “guardians” over the elected government.

Goodbye Egypt.  And hello Iran.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

Share

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

LESSONS LEARNED #64: “National security can be a messy business. Especially when your enemies don’t play by the same rules.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 5th, 2011

Stalin Contained in Europe and Asia

Following the defeat of Nazi Germany, Soviet communism filled the Nazi world conquest void.  The Soviets paid the highest price in blood in the war against Hitler.  And the way they looked at it, that gave them the deed to any land the Red Army found itself on after hostilities came to an end.  Those countries who once welcomed their Soviet liberators from Nazi oppression soon found themselves under Soviet oppression.  The Soviets weren’t going anywhere.  They stayed in Eastern Europe.  They tried to stay in Iran but the British and the Americans got them to pull out, thanks in large part to America’s nuclear status.  Communist guerillas in Greece that once harassed the Nazis were trying to ascend to power with the help of the Soviets.  The Truman Doctrine checked the Soviet influence and kept Greece independent and out of the Soviet camp.  Russia was once again trying to take Turkish lands to give them that elusive warm water port via the Bosporus and Dardanelles into the Mediterranean.  Again, the Truman Doctrine helped keep the Turks independent and out of the Soviet sphere.

The German capital, Berlin, was completely inside East Germany.  But it was partitioned between East and West.  This was a problem for the Soviets as the people in East Germany didn’t like them, the KGB or the East German Stasi (which formed in 1950).  East Berlin was a gateway to freedom via West Berlin.  The first attempt to shut this down was the Berlin Blockade.  Truman overcame the blockade with the Berlin Airlift.  Thwarted, the Soviets lifted their blockade.  But then built the Berlin Wall to keep the unhappy East Germans from fleeing Soviet oppression.  West Berlin remained free within un-free East Germany.  And was still the gateway to freedom.  Only attaining freedom was a lot more difficult, with many East Germans dying in the attempt.

Being rebuffed in Eastern Europe, Berlin, Greece, Turkey and Iran, Stalin looked next to the Korean peninsula.  President Truman had hastened the end of World War II with the atomic bombings in the Pacific for a couple of reasons.  One was to spare American lives resulting from an invasion of the Japanese homeland.  The body count had only increased as MacArthur island-hopped his way to Japan.  Another reason was to get the Japanese to surrender before the Soviet Union could get the Red Army on more territory in the Pacific.  Because Truman saw the writing on the wall.  The Soviets never willingly left land the Red Army occupied.  With the end of hostilities in the Pacific, and the Japanese out of the Korean peninsula, the Allies partitioned Korea into North and South.  The Soviets occupied the North.  The Americans the South.  The Soviet sponsored North Korea eventually invaded the American sponsored South Korea, inaugurating the first open conflict by proxy in the Cold War.  After three years of a seesaw war, North and South signed an armistice setting the border between the two where it was in the beginning.  At the 38th Parallel.  Though the Korean War was a draw, it was still another Soviet defeat.  Who began to realize this world domination was trickier than it looked.  Especially when there were do-gooders out their like the United States always mucking up the works.

Eisenhower to Kennedy, Regime Changes and near Nuclear Annihilation

So the Soviets changed gears.  No more wars of invasion and conquest.  They had a new idea.  Wars of liberation.  They would help foment dissent in countries under the boot of American Imperialism.  Or at least in countries closer to America than the Soviet Union.  With America being in the Western Hemisphere that, of course, led the Soviets to Central and South America.  With the close of hostilities on the Korean peninsula in 1953, the Americans were now suspect of any communist-like behavior, eager to avoid another bloody and costly proxy war with the Soviet Union.  And they saw some in 1954 Guatemala.  Where the newly elected Jacobo Árbenz Guzmán started seizing private property and instituted agrarian reforms.  Along communist lines.  With more public property.  And less private property.  The developments in Guatemala may not have been Soviet in origin.  But it looked enough like it for President Eisenhower to approve a CIA coup in Guatemala.

After going through World War II and the Korean War, Eisenhower wanted to fight future wars before they became wars.  Like in Guatemala.  And elsewhere.  As in Cuba.  Where Eisenhower approved planning for Regime change in this Caribbean nation following the Cuban Revolution that ousted Fulgencio Batista who had seized power in a coup.  Putting the revolutionaries Fidel Castro and Che Guevara in power.  Once in power, the new revolutionary government did some very ‘communist’ things.  Seized private property.  Nationalized public utilities.  Created a bit of a police state.  The usual things.  But it was worse than in Guatemala.  And closer.  So President Kennedy approved the Eisenhower plan of regime change.  And we call that CIA plan the Bay of Pigs Invasion.  Which, of course, failed.  Unlike Eisenhower, Kennedy did not support this black ops mission with the U.S. military to stave off defeat.  So Castro, his brother, Guevara, and others, defeated the CIA backed Cuban exiles.  Which empowered Castro.  And pushed him closer to the Soviet Union. 

You know what Nikita Khrushchev saw when he looked across the Black Sea?  American nuclear missiles in Turkey.  Figuratively, of course.  Not literally.  He couldn’t even see the Turkish coast let alone missile installations.  But he knew they were there.  And that really got in his craw.  And the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion with the young and apparently reluctant American president provided just the opportunity he needed.  He would install Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba.  And try this young and inexperienced president.  Castro was all for it, fearing another U.S. invasion (he apparently thought far more of Kennedy than the Soviets).  Guevara, too.  Because he was just reckless.  And crazy, as it turned out.  Well, the secret deployment was discovered by a U-2 spy plane.  Caught the Soviets with their pants down.  We threw up a naval blockade.  Came to the brink of nuclear war.  But Kennedy stood his ground.  The Soviets backed down and removed their missiles.  And then the Americans removed the missiles that had so bothered Khrushchev.  This last was part of a secret agreement to keep the young American president from looking bad.  But the Soviets were a little glad to remove their missiles from Cuba.  Because Guevara wanted to nuke the United States.  And probably would have if he had control of those missiles.

From Iranian Coup to Iranian Revolution

Oil underground is useless.  It only has value when someone brings it up where it can be refined into something useful.  And that’s what the British did in Iran.  The Iranians did not like the split of profits (they were only getting 16% of the net profits which was greater than the 0% they were receiving before the British pumped the oil out of the ground).  Anytime there is huge money involved, there’s going to be trouble.  And after the oil infrastructure was set up the Iranians nationalized the oil industry.  Which didn’t make the British happy.  So they pulled their expertise from the Iranian oil industry and blockaded their oil exports.  The Iranians were not as good as the British and their production fell.  And what little they did produce they could not sell.  This led to unemployment, hunger, etc.  All the right conditions for a coup.

Truman was not interested.  He had his hands full with the Korean War.  But Eisenhower saw things differently.  Especially when the British told him Iran may fall into the Soviet sphere.  And with her would go all of that oil.  Eisenhower believed this.  For there was nothing more the Soviets would have wanted.  They’d still be in Iran if the British and the U.S. (backed by the United States’ nuclear monopoly) didn’t persuade them to leave following World War II.  So Eisenhower joined the British in the coup that placed Mohammad Reza Shah (aka, the Shah of Iran) on the throne in 1953.  And placed Iran into the American sphere.  And everyone lived happily ever after.  The West got Iranian oil on more favorable terms.  And the Middle East got a burning white hatred for the United States and the West in general.  Who apparently would do anything to steal their oil.  So that ‘happily ever after’ was more tongue in cheek.  It ended well in terms of the Cold War.  But not in terms of the nationalism or geopolitics of the Middle East.  For it turns some people can hold a grudge for a real long time.

Shah-rule proved at times to be rather oppressive.  And highly Western.  Democratic, anti-Shah protests began in 1977.  First by Islamists.  Who didn’t really like Western influence.   Then eventually well-educated and unemployed college students (men and women).  Who wanted more freedoms.  And jobs.  Ayatollah Khomeini returned from exile in 1979.  As the democratic revolution grew in fervor, Khomeini consolidated his power behind the scenes.  There were no public statements about creating a theocracy.  Because the people didn’t want a theocracy.  Especially the women who had graduated from college with great hopes and dreams.  Because in a theocracy, women become second-class citizens with fewer rights.  And fewer hopes and dreams.

There was then a referendum asking if Iran should be an Islamic Republic.  It passed with near unanimity.  A draft constitution was put up to vote on.  It passed, too.  Some complained about voting irregularities.  Which became moot when Khomeini stated Iran would be based on Shari Law.  With no republic parts.  Then the Shah (now in exile) went to the United States for medical treatment.  Complications extended his stay, infuriating the Iranian protesters (who wanted him back to try and execute) and ratcheting up the American hate (who recalled the 1953 coup).  Young Islamists stormed the U.S. Embassy taking 52 hostages, holding them for 444 days.  Sunni Iraq then invaded Iran, fueling the Islamist furor.  The Islamists suppressed political opposition.  Shut down the free press.  Made women second-class citizens.  And, well, the rest is hardcore Islamist theocratic history.

Conquerors Lie and Exploit Political Instability

The world is a big place.  Sometimes events are interrelated.  Sometimes they’re not.  Sometimes we pay a price for acting too late.  And sometimes we pay a price for acting too soon.  Sometimes our actions prevent a bad situation from getting worse.  Sometimes our actions make a bad situation worse.  Or even makes a not necessarily bad situation a complete and utter disaster.  You never can be certain.  For one thing, everyone has some ulterior motive.  Sometimes those motives align with your national security interests.  Sometimes they don’t.  Unfortunately, we can never know for certain at the time we need to make a decision.  We can only base it on our current intelligence.  And history.

One thing we do know, though, is that there are people who want to conquer other people.  Hitler wanted to conquer the world and spread Nazi rule.  Stalin wanted to conquer the world and spread communist rule.  And now Islamist fundamentalists want to conquer the world and spread Islamist rule.  How do we know this?  They told us.  And demonstrated this by their actions.

Two other key points we can learn from history.  Those who want to conquer lie.  And they exploit political instability.  Hitler lied about his intentions in Czechoslovakia and took advantage of a war-weary Europe still recovering from the Great Depression.  Khrushchev lied about placing missiles in Cuba.  Which he placed in Cuba by taking advantage of the political instability following the failed Bay of Pig Invasion.  And Khomeini lied about his intentions in Iran knowing the people didn’t want a theocracy.  And he took advantage of the chaos of the democracy uprisings and other events to steer the nation where he wanted it to go.  Islamic theocracy.

The Nazi threat gave way to the Communist threat.  Which gave way to the Islamist threat.  So we should pay close attention to any country with political instability/democracy movements.  That has any Islamist elements.  Especially one that feels they’ve been wronged by the United States.  For that would be the perfect storm in the Islamic world.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

Share

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Political Unrest in the Middle East and North Africa: Democracy in Action or an Extension of the Iranian Revolution?

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 26th, 2011

Democracy Movements Sow the Seeds of Shariah Law

The Arab world is ablaze with democracy movements.  Which is creating disorder and chaos.  A most fertile ground for Shariah law to take root and grow (see AP’s Al-Qaida calls for revolt against Arab rulers posted 2/26/2011 on myway).

Al-Qaida’s offshoot in Yemen urged Muslims to revolt against Arab rulers and establish governments based on Islamic law, according to an audio tape posted Saturday on militant websites…

He also said toppling longtime rulers is not enough and that new governments must be established based on Islamic religious law, or Shariah.

“One tyrant goes, only to be replaced another who may fix for the people some of their worldly issues by offering job opportunities and increasing their income, but the greater problem remains,” al-Rubeish said, according to a translation provided by SITE.

This is how the Iranian Revolution ended in a rigid theocracy.  Nothing at all what those female college students wanted when protesting against the Shah.  But this is the danger of revolution.  Disorder and chaos tend to favor the less savory types.  People with ulterior motives.  Who never let a good crisis go to waste.

Big Trouble in Little Bahrain

Bahrain is ripe for chaos.  A majority Shiite population ruled by a Sunni minority.  Home to an American naval fleet.  Supported by Saudi Arabia who is seen as too friendly to the United States.  And now an exile returns home (see Key Shi’ite opposition leader returns to Bahrain by Adam Schreck, Associated Press, posted 2/26/2011 on The Washington Times).

A prominent Bahraini opposition leader returned home from exile Saturday and urged the Gulf kingdom’s rulers to back up promises of political reform with action.

The return of Hassan Mushaima, a senior Shi’ite figure, could mark a new phase for an anti-government movement in the tiny nation which is strategically important for the U.S. because it hosts the U.S. Navy‘s 5th Fleet.

Mr. Mushaima heads a Shi’ite group known as Haq, which is considered more hard-line than the main Shi’ite political bloc that has led two weeks of protests. Mr. Mushaima returned Saturday from several months of voluntary exile in London, with a stop in Lebanon.

A more hard-line Shiite?  Sort of like in Iran?  This reminds me of someone.  I seem to recall another opposition leader in exile who returned to Iran following that democratic revolution.  What was his name?  It’s on the tip of my tongue.  Who was that?  Oh, yes.  Now I remember.  Ayatollah Khomeini.  In exile he wanted but one thing.  For the Shah of Iran and his government to be overthrown.  (And he wanted to impose Shariah law but he didn’t tell the people about that.  He would surprise them with that one later.  After he seized power.)  Surely Mr. Mushaima wasn’t in exile for anything like this.

Mr. Mushaima had been among a group of Shi’ite activists accused of plotting to overthrow Bahrain‘s rulers.

Then again he could have been in exile for exactly the same thing.  But is this any cause for concern?

Bahrain is the first Gulf state to be thrown into turmoil by the Arab world’s wave of change. The unrest is highly significant for Washington because Bahrain is home to the U.S. Navy‘s 5th Fleet, which is the Pentagon’s main counterweight against Iran’s widening military ambitions.

Well, as long as we have nothing to fear from Iran, there should be no problem.  And what has Iran been doing lately that should worry us?

Iran Working on the Ingredients to Build an Atomic Bomb

Iran has been trying to build an atomic bomb.  They deny this but they have begun enriching uranium.  And enriched uranium is an ingredient of an atomic bomb.  But we can take Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, for his word, can’t we?  Sure, he denies the Holocaust.  And he wants to wipe Israel from the face of the planet.  And he oppresses his people.  Locks up dissidents.  But despite all that, then candidate Barack Obama said he would sit down with this man and talk with him.  So that must mean he’s a reasonable man.

Well, that.  Or Obama is woefully naive and ignorant of Middle East history.  Ahmadinejad is a threat and a loose cannon in the Middle East.  Everyone should be worried about him.  And not trust a single word he says (he supported the democracy movement in Egypt while cracking down on dissidents in Iran).  He’s up to something.  And a bad something, no doubt.  Others know this.  And have taken action to delay his atomic bomb making ability.  Many believe that these people launched the Stuxnet computer virus with the objective of interrupting the Iranian nuclear program.  This malware spun some of their uranium-enrichment centrifuges out of control, damaging them.  It would appear they are unloading the uranium fuel to make repairs, further delaying their ability to make an atomic bomb.

Some will object to this interference into a sovereign nation.  And some have criticized those in the West.  Who are we to say who can and cannot have a nuclear program?  Well, the West has never started a nuclear war.  It would appear that we can’t get the same kind of assurance out of Iran (see Iran nuclear plans: Bushehr fuel to be unloaded posted 2/26/2011 on BBC News Middle East).

The IAEA report – obtained by the BBC and made available online by the Institute for Science and International Security (Isis) – says Iran is “not implementing a number of its obligations.”

These include “clarification of the remaining outstanding issues which give rise to concerns about possible military dimensions to its nuclear programme”.

Six world powers are negotiating with Iran over its nuclear programme, and the country is subject to United Nations Security Council sanctions over its refusal to halt uranium enrichment.

Enriched uranium can be used for civilian nuclear purposes, but also to build atomic bombs.

The United States has been a nuclear power since 1945.  Who in the world today is worried about a U.S. nuclear first strike?  No one.  It’s not who we are.  And our history of being a nuclear power proves it.  Now who thinks Iran can be trusted with nuclear weapons like the U.S.?  Only those who see the world through the same prism as Iran.  Those people who want to see Israel and the United States destroyed.  Other, rational people know the world will be a more dangerous place with a nuclear Iran.

Saudi Arabia on the Right Side of Soviet Communism and Iranian Hegemony

And we come back to Bahrain.  Which can be the fuse to the tinderbox growing in the Middle East and North Africa (see Could the next Mideast uprising happen in Saudi Arabia? by Rachel Bronson posted 2/25/2011 on The Washington Post).

The unrest in Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain and Yemen (to the kingdom’s west, east and south) plays on the Saudis’ greatest fear: encirclement. The Saudis aligned with the United States instead of colonial Britain in the early 20th century in part to defend against creeping British hegemony. During the Cold War the monarchy hunkered down against its Soviet-backed neighbors out of fear of being surrounded by communist regimes. And since the end of the Cold War, the overarching goal of Saudi foreign policy has been countering the spread of Iranian influence in all directions – Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, the Palestinian territories and Yemen…

Sunni-ruled Bahrain, less than 20 miles from Saudi Arabia’s oil- and Shiite-rich Eastern Province, has been a longtime recipient of Saudi aid. It has also been a focus of Iranian interests.

The Saudis are “concerned about the events unfolding in Bahrain and throughout the region.”  And they weren’t too happy with President Obama on Egypt.  They were “reportedly furious that the Obama administration ultimately supported regime change in Egypt, because of the precedent it could set.”  And for good reason.  The Saudis have always been on our side.  I mean, they’re not perfect, but it doesn’t get much better in the Muslim Middle East.

The United States has a great deal at stake in Saudi Arabia, though Americans often look at the Saudis with distaste. As one senior Saudi government official once asked me: “What does the United States share with a country where women can’t drive, the Koran is the constitution and beheadings are commonplace?” It’s a tough question, but the answer, quite simply, is geopolitics – and that we know and like Saudi’s U.S.-educated liberal elites.

The Saudis have been helpful to us. They are reasonably peaceful stalwarts. They don’t attack their neighbors, although they do try to influence them, often by funding allies in local competitions for power. They are generally committed to reasonable oil prices. For example, although their oil is not a direct substitute for Libyan sweet crude, the Saudis have offered to increase their supply to offset any reduction in Libyan production due to the violence there. We work closely with them on counterterrorism operations. And the Saudis are a counterbalance to Iran. We disagree on the Israel-Palestinian issue, but we don’t let it get in the way of other key interests.

Saudi Arabia is not in as bad economic conditions as the other nations falling into unrest.  It may not fall.  But if Bahrain falls under hard-line Shiite control, that’s not going to help the Saudis.  The Middle East.  The United States.  Or world peace.  Before that happens, we should consider treating our friends better than our enemies.

Will Democracy Win the Day for Oppressive, Authoritarian Rule?

As volatile regions go, they don’t come much more volatile than the Middle East.  And, like it or not, many of the world’s economies are dependent on their oil.  We know this.  They know it.  And our enemies know it.

As chaos spreads opportunity knocks.  And it’s clear who is knocking.  Iran.  We have kept this oppressive, authoritarian regime’s ambitions in check so far.  It’s rather ironic, then, that it’s greatest enemy may be the key for her success.  Democracy.  In other countries.  That will cause chaos that Iran can exploit.  Much like they did during the Iranian Revolution. 

History does have a funny way of repeating itself, doesn’t it?

www.PITHOCRATES.com

Share

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Can Feminism Survive in the Islamic Middle East?

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 19th, 2011

The Iranian Revolution and Feminism

The Shah of Iran modernized Iran.  And advanced women’s rights.  Did away with child marriage.  And outlawed having multiple wives.  Women may not have been fully equal but they were more equal than they had ever been before.  Or since.  And they had access to education.  In fact, they were so well educated that when they came out of college some could find no jobs.  At least none that called for such a higher education.  So there was a lot of unemployment during the 1970s.  A lot of highly educated people without jobs.  Both men and women.  And they protested.  Both men and women.  They overthrew the Shah.  Both men and women.  And how did that go?  Well, better for the men than it did for the women.

The Iranian Revolution in 1979 kind of came out of nowhere.  Stunned most of the world.  But many quickly welcomed this ‘democratic’ revolution.  Some people even welcomed that kindly, moderate, old man returning from exile.  Ayatollah Khomeini.  Even The New York Times said at last we will see a humane government in a third world country.  Of course, that didn’t happen.  The ‘democratic’ revolution soon became a theocratic revolution.  Khomeini ushered in Sharia law.  And a rather oppressive interpretation at that.  Everything the women gained under the Shah was gone.  Women were property again.  Second class citizens.  Not the kind of hope and change they were protesting about.  In fact, a lot of their daughters say today, “Thanks, Mom.”  And, “What were you thinking about!?!”  Under their breath, of course.

The Iranian Revolution started out as a democratic movement upset about rampant unemployment and abject poverty.  And they were angry at the Shah’s oppressive regime that exercised dictatorial power.  That shut down all opposition voices.  A lot like in Egypt.  But underneath this there was another element lurking in the background.  An Islamic element.  Angry at the Shah’s Westernization of Iran.  And eager to restore the old, Islamic ways.  And while the first revolutionaries talked about democratic reform, these other revolutionaries planned their theocracy.  Then they installed it.  And the rest is history.  A sad one for those women who had achieved so much under the Shah’s rule.

As in Iran, Men and Women Stood side by side during the Egyptian Revolution.  Will they after the Revolution?

So another revolution comes and goes in the Arab world.  It took only 18 days.  Things were pretty good in Egypt for women before the revolution.  But what will life be like after the revolution (see Egypt women stand for equality in the square by Kathy Lally posted 2/18/2011 on The Washington Post)?

Women are far better off in Egypt than some parts of the Arab world. There are no religious police enforcing dress codes as in Iran, or prohibitions against driving as in Saudi Arabia. But Egyptian women are greatly underrepresented in public life and inferior to men before the law. They hold cabinet posts, but no judgeships. They are members of parliament, but have few seats. They occupy many professions, but not all.

Divorces are difficult to obtain and favor men, as do property rights. Women are encouraged to marry and have children early: The legal age of marriage was only recently raised from 16 to 18.

And, every day as they walk down the street, they are reminded of their low status – until Tahrir Square. Egyptian women are sexually harassed to an astonishing degree, groped, ogled, followed by catcalls, behavior that no law forbids. In a 2008 survey, the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights in Cairo found that 83 percent of Egyptian women and 98 percent of foreign women had been harassed at some point.

And this in a ‘far better off’ country in the Arab world.  Makes one wonder what happened in the not so better off countries.  The question is, will this be the high water mark for feminism in Egypt?  Will they now retreat on the advancements made in women’s rights?

“We were equal partners in this revolution,” she said, “and we are respected as such. Now we have to use the moment effectively, to make sure women participate in daily political life, to make sure they are involved in the development of political parties and labor movements.”

That’s kind of what the women said in Iran.  Of course, once that theocracy took hold, all hopes for women being involved in political parties and movements were over.  Will this be Egypt’s fate?  Or the Middle East’s?  A common enemy can unite a people.  Even the sexes.  But what about tradition and culture?  And religion?  How heavily will they weigh on the new governments borne of revolution?

Tunisia and Egypt – Oppressors of the People but Defenders of Feminism

What do Tunisia and Egypt have in common?  They both just disposed hated dictators.  And they were both bastions of women’s rights (see Are the Mideast revolutions bad for women’s rights? by Isobel Coleman posted 2/20/2011 on The Washington Post).

Tunisia, in particular, has been a bastion of women’s rights in a region known for the opposite. Shortly after independence in 1956, President Habib Bourguiba, the country’s secular authoritarian leader, pushed through a Personal Status Code which was remarkably liberal for its time. It granted women equal divorce rights to men, abolished polygamy, set minimum marriage ages, allowed access to birth control and even some access to abortion. Bourguiba modeled himself on Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Turkey’s founder who force-marched his country into the modern age through a painful process of secularization – “for the people, despite the people,” as he once quipped.

The result is that Tunisian women today enjoy relatively high literacy and have achieved broad gains in law, medicine, business, academia and media.

But things got bad.  And the Tunisians protested about the same things the Iranians and the Egyptians did.  And the big question is this.  Now that there is a power vacuum, who will fill it?  A modern, democratic power?  Or an old school, theocratic power?  Like, say, the Muslim Brotherhood?

In Egypt, democracy will also create important openings for Islamist groups, especially the Muslim Brotherhood. In a 2007 Gallup survey, 64 percent of Egyptians polled said that sharia should be the only source of law in the country; an additional 24 percent said it should be a source of legislation. (There was little variation by gender.)

Still, Egyptians’ desire for sharia is balanced by a strong demand for modernization and a distaste for theocracy. Women’s rights will be a litmus test for the new government – a sign of where the country is headed. The Muslim Brotherhood unleashed a sea of controversy in 2007 when it released its party platform excluding women (and non-Muslims) from the presidency, and calling for a group of Islamic scholars to review and veto legislation that does not conform to religious rules. These conservative positions confirmed critics’ worst fears of the Brotherhood, and led to some soul-searching within the organization itself, especially among younger members who disagreed with the hard-line positions of their elders.

Those younger members should read a page from the Iranian Revolution history.  The young in Iran today are not all happy with their parent’s revolution.  Especially the women.  And the girls.

The rise of Salafism, a particularly conservative form of the faith propagated by Saudi Arabia, should worry Egyptian women’s groups. In recent years, tensions between secularists and Salafis have been rising, with Salafis calling for full veiling of women and gender segregation in universities. The Salafis’ following is evident in the rising number of Egyptian women wearing the niqab, the face-covering veil, long black abayas and even gloves on their hands to avoid physical contact with men.

Wearing the veil has become popular in Tunisia and Egypt for a variety of reasons, including as an expression of religious identity, conforming to social pressures and as a statement against the secular authoritarianism of the government. (The irony is that Egypt is the birthplace of Arab feminism, which in the first half of the 20th century put much energy into unveiling women.)

With Hosni Mubarak gone, activists will now have to contend with hard-core politics in a way that has been missing from Egypt’s Potemkin parliament. Controversial legislation, like the equal right to divorce that was passed in 2000, will come under pressure from Islamist lawmakers who fiercely opposed the bill. (Tunisia is the only other Arab country that grants women the right.) Women’s groups can no longer fall back upon a sympathetic Mubarak regime, which often sided with their cause.

Ah, yes, the hated Hosni Mubarak.  Champion of feminism.  Who they ran out of the country.  Much like the Shah of Iran.  One can only hope that the women of Egypt don’t end up like the women of Iran.

Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan – Still not Bastions of Women’s Rights

Of course, being a woman in Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan was no picnic.  Under their law, the sentence for many offences was death.  Even for not wearing the proper traditional garb.  But that was then.  We toppled the Taliban from power in Afghanistan.  And the Saudi’s are a stalwart ally.  So how are things there now (see Why American troops in Afghanistan shouldn’t have to wear headscarves by Martha McSally posted 2/18/2011 in The Washington Post)?

In 2001, I was an Air Force lieutenant colonel and A-10 fighter pilot stationed in Saudi Arabia, in charge of rescue operations for no-fly enforcement in Iraq and then in Afghanistan. Every time I went off base, I had to follow orders and put on a black Muslim abaya and head scarf. Military officials said this would show “cultural sensitivity” toward conservative Saudi leaders and guarantee “force protection” – this in a nation where women couldn’t drive, vote or dress as they pleased…

In Afghanistan after Sept. 11, 2001, the world saw the hallmark of Taliban oppression – women who failed to cover up risked death. Now, nine years after the fall of the Taliban government, Afghan women are still required to cover themselves and have hardly moved toward the equal rights and liberties we envisioned. In conjunction, U.S. military women are simply submitting to Muslim practices that symbolize the plight of Afghan women when they put on the scarf themselves.

American servicewomen will continue to be viewed as second-class warriors if leaders push them to take up the customs of countries where women are second-class citizens.

It’s pretty bad when they make your liberators adopt the custom of the previously oppressed women.  There’s a mixed message here.  Rise up and enjoy your freedom.  But be obedient.  They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.  And as tradition, culture and religion go, they don’t come much older.  Talk about democratic movements all you want.  But there is a heavy undertow of Islamic Fundamentalism in the Middle East.  And it’s going to take an extraordinary effort to resist it.  

Will the women make it to shore and enjoy democracy?  Or will they be dragged back and disappear beneath the surface of theocracy?  Like in that democratic revolution in Iran?  Let’s pray that feminism wins the day.  For if theocracy does, it won’t be only the women in the Middle East that suffer.  We all will.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

Share

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Iranian Regime is bad for World Peace. An Iranian controlled Egypt is even Worse.

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 29th, 2011

They Smile in your Face and then Sneak across the Border to Wreak Havoc

President Obama was a young senator with no executive experience.  And he had no foreign policy experience.  But he could talk to our enemies.  And make them like us.  Those same people who hate us with the fury of a white-hot blast oven.  Throw a couple of kind words in and an apology or two and, voilà, or our past bad blood is gone.  It was that simple.  Why any of the dunderheads who came before him couldn’t understand this was beyond him.  Then again, he is a super genius.  They weren’t.   So he would come in and save the day.  By saving the world (see Obama Doctrine is Failing in the Middle East by James Carafano posted 1/29/2011 on Heritage’s The Foundry).

Obama also bought into the false belief that improving relations between Palestine and Israel was the solution to “all problems” in the Middle East. That simplistic notion masks the serious challenges in the region—lack of healthy civil societies, a paucity of economic freedom, exploding demographic growth, endemic unemployment, environmental troubles, lurking Islamism, terrorism, and troublemaking from Iran. Much the enmity expressed against the West is more properly the product of homegrown problems. Yet, Obama has done little to address these issues other than try to solve them all with a single speech in Cairo.

So how has making nice to the Muslim world worked?  Has Palestine warmed up to Israel?  Have they warmed up to the Arab nations that have recognized Israel?  No.  Nothing has changed.  Apology Tour notwithstanding.  In fact, it looks like they have intensified their efforts (see Red Alert: Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood posted 1/29/2011 on STRATFOR).

The Egyptian police are no longer patrolling the Rafah border crossing into Gaza.  Hamas [which formed in Gaza as an outgrowth of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood (MB)] armed men are entering into Egypt and are closely collaborating with the MB. The MB has fully engaged itself in the demonstrations, and they are unsatisfied with the dismissal of the Cabinet. They are insisting on a new Cabinet that does not include members of the ruling National Democratic Party.

By trying to make nice appears to have emboldened our enemies.  Imagine that. 

Iran supports Hamas.  And both call for the destruction of Israel.  Now there’s unrest in Egypt.  And Israel’s enemy in the Gaza Strip (located between Israel and Egypt) may be moving unopposed across the border into Egypt.  And you can probably guess why they’re going there.  You want a hint?  They’re not going there to be nice.

Damn College Students, always Rioting without Thinking about Tomorrow

President Obama is asking President Mubarak to exercise restraint in dealing with the protesters.  To let democracy work.  The problem is it’s not really democracy at work.  What’s happening in Egypt is kind of like what happened in Iran.  Without the American hostages

There are forces at work to replace the ‘conservative’ Mubarak (he was clamping down on Islamic extremism as well as human rights) with Shari ‘a Law.  Like in Iran.  And like it was in Afghanistan.  And those protesting should be careful of what they ask for.  Because they may just get it.  If they think Mubarak’s regime was difficult to live under, they need to talk to those who have lived under the Taliban in Afghanistan.  Or those currently living in Iran.

And speaking of Iran (see Dutch ends Iran ties over hanging posted 1/30/2011 on Al Jazeera).

The Dutch government has frozen official contacts with Iran to protest the hanging of a Dutch-Iranian woman, the foreign ministry said… Bahrami had been jailed in Iran since December 2009 after protests against Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s re-election. Protesters took to the streets, saying the vote was marred by fraud and that opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi was the rightful winner.

Rioting college students should pay attention to this.  Some of those students who overthrew the Shah of Iran were women.  Hoping for a better life with their college education.  Of course, after the Revolution, that’s about all they got from their college education.  Hope.  Because opportunities were now limited for second-class citizens.

Where have all the Cowboys Gone?

Things are not good in Egypt.  Or the greater Middle East region.  This could mark a watershed moment in history.  With Iranian influence in Egypt and Iranian control of the Suez Canal, life will change in most of the world.  Probably not for the good.  The shift in the balance of power could be so devastating that it could result in world war.  These are “the times that try men’s souls.”  And we look for a leader to get us through these perilous times. 

A George Washington.  An Abraham Lincoln.  A Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  A Harry S. Truman.  A Dwight D. Eisenhower.  A John F. Kennedy.  A Ronald Reagan.  A George H.W. Bush.  A George W. Bush.  Men hated by their enemies.  Men who pursued foreign policy with confidence.  Guts.   And without losing sight of the big picture.  The kind of leader that our enemies took seriously.  And the kind they respected.  Despite hating them.

That’s the kind of leader we need now.  Instead, we have an apologist.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

Share

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,