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.

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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.

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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.

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Libya going the Way of Iran is not good for Libya, Israel, the Middle East or the United States

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 29th, 2011

Week in Review

How’s that democracy in the Arab Spring?  Good.  As long as you’re a man.  And are a devout Muslim.  Because they’re starting to head down the Iranian road.  Following their Islamic Revolution (see Libya’s new leaders say they will make Islamic Sharia law main source of legislation by Associated Press posted 10/24/2011 on The Washington Post).

Libya’s new leaders said they intend to make Islamic Sharia law the main source of legislation and will nullify any laws that contradict its tenets, giving the country a more Islamist character in the post-Moammar Gadhafi era…

However Libya is not headed down the same path as Saudi Arabia and Iran, which follow a stricter interpretation of Sharia — cutting off the hands of thieves, the heads of murderers and stoning adulterers to death. Those who drink alcohol are publicly flogged.

They won’t be like Iran?  Yeah, right.  This is exactly how things happened in Iran.  When they overthrew their secular leader.  Mohammad Rezā Shāh Pahlavi.  The Shah of Iran.

You cannot lump Saudi Arabia and Iran in the same category.  Iran hates us and wants to kill us.  Saudi Arabia is a friend and ally.  Even though this brings a lot of hate onto the House of Saud.  Both from within the kingdom.  And without.

The one area where Islamic law is nearly universal is in personal status law — rules concerning marriage, divorce and inheritance. Sharia allows men to marry up to four women, without the approval of one another even without their knowledge. Men are also allowed to divorce their wives by proclamation.

Women have the right to ask for a divorce under any circumstances, without the man’s approval, but in such a case the woman foregoes rights to alimony. Islamic law also stipulates that married daughters receive half the inheritance that sons receive and insists that women have the right to a dowry upon marriage.

Christianity treats women a lot better than Islam.  Yet liberals attack Christianity.  And bend over backwards to explain, excuse and forgive the harsh treatment of women under Sharia law.  Even though the liberals are the party of the feminists.  Funny how that is.

Egypt got warm and cozy with Hamas.  Threw open the border to Gaza.  Even though Hamas is warm and cozy with Iran.  Hates Israel.  And has it in their charter to destroy Israel.  Now it looks like Libya is moving more into the Iranian orbit.  Just like Egypt.  Humph.  Anyone see this coming?  When we all threw in with the Libyan rebels?

Libya going the way of Iran.  Not good.  For Libya.  Israel.  The Middle East.  Or the United States.

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The Far Left Hates Christians more than Radical Muslims

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 26th, 2011

No Morality Police under 20 Years of Republican Presidents

The far Left hates conservatives.  And Christians.  They don’t want them shoving their morality down their throats.  Like conservatives do in some countries (see Iran’s Hardline Fashion Police by Babak Dehghanpisheh posted 6/24/2011 on The Daily Beast).

It’s that time of year again. As summer temperatures soar in Tehran and other large Iranian cities, the morality police, or gasht ershad as they’re called in Farsi, come out in droves to make sure the citizenry isn’t flashing too much skin or acting in other inappropriate ways. The activities of the gasht ershad ramped up after the election of hardline president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2005, but it seems this year they’re going for broke: since mid-June, 70,000 morality police have been sent out into the streets of Tehran alone.

Ronald Reagan was president for 8 years.  George H.W. Bush for 4 years.  George W. Bush was president for 8 years.  That’s three Republicans occupying the Oval Office for 20 years.  All the while the far Left was attacking them for being too close to the Religious Right.  Trying to scare everyone into believing that they would set up a Spanish Inquisition-like morality police to punish people misbehaving.  But in those 20 years let me ask you this.  Did any of these Republican presidents ever send 70,000 morality police to any American city?  No.  In fact, by my recollection, during those 20 years we still had pornography.  Women were still wearing bikinis in public.  Birth control and abortion were still available legally.  And guys were able to do whatever they wanted to with their hair.  Even wear gold chain necklaces if they wanted to.  But in Iran…

No more mullets (a move even some Tehran fashionistas applauded), ponytails, or a popular hairstyle called the rooster, which swoops up in a faux-hawk in the front and flares out at the back. And there’s a new restriction for men this summer: no necklaces.

During those 20 years of Republican presidents there was no morality police.  There was no one saying what fashion was and was not permissible.  As I think parachute pants and the mullet attest to. 

The government has not only spelled out the crackdown in legal terms, but has also tried to make the case that inappropriate clothing can be directly linked to damnation. Last week, an analyst named Ali Akbar Raefipour, appeared on state television and claimed that the word “jeans” actually comes from the word “jinn,” which are supernatural beings that can fly and take the form of animals. He took it a step further by comparing women’s high heels to the hooves of demons. And if that wasn’t enough, Raefipour said that numbers and symbols on some t-shirts can be read as “spells or satanic slogans.”

After only a week of the crackdown, Tehran police chief Hussein Sajedinia held a press conference and claimed resounding success, citing a 50 percent drop in the harassment of women on the streets (without a hint of irony)…

Who would have known?  That wearing blue jeans will send you to hell.  That high heels are the sign of the beast.  And writing on t-shirts is satanic.  If I’m not mistaken, though, during 20 years of Republican presidents I’m pretty sure I saw women in high heels, in tight denim jeans and in shirts with stuff written on them stretched taut across their bosoms.  Not that I looked.  I wonder why the Religious Right allowed this to happen during those 20 years of Republican presidents.

Anyway, it’s good to know that Iranian women are now safe.  Free to walk along the streets.  Without any men harassing them.  Just by exercising a little more modesty in their appearance.

For ordinary Iranians, the evidence of the crackdown is in plain sight. Checkpoints run by the morality police have mushroomed all over Tehran and, residents say, it’s not uncommon to see women getting stuffed into one of their ubiquitous vans…

Soheila, a 28-year old Tehran resident, has had enough. “I was even with my husband one time when a policewoman gave me a warning about bad hijab,” she says. “‘[I’m] going to start wearing the chador [a head-to-toe cloth covering] because [I’m] afraid of the morality police.” 

Exercising a little more modesty in your personal appearance.  And by living your life in absolute fear and oppression.  Again, I lived through 20 years of Republican presidents yet don’t recall any such oppression of women.  Guess there’s a difference between Islam and Christianity.  And women have more freedoms under Christianity.

One thing you have to say about Muslims living under Sharia law, though.  They must really love, honor and respect their women.

Al Qaeda has a PR Problem because they’re Killing Muslim Men, Women and Children

Actually, they don’t.  Which is really a puzzling thing about the far Left’s open hostility towards Christianity and absolute tolerance for anything Islamic.  Christians don’t physically and/or brutally oppress their women.   Or use them as suicide bombers (see Taliban say husband and wife in Pakistan suicide attack posted 6/26/2011 on the BBC).

A husband and wife carried out a suicide attack that killed eight people at a police station in north-western Pakistan, the Taliban has said…

The BBC’s Orla Guerin, in Islamabad, says that the use of a husband and wife suicide squad by the Pakistani Taliban is a new tactic, and a new threat.

Already, our correspondent adds, the militants have resorted to using children as human bombs. And a suicide attack in Pakistan’s tribal areas last December was blamed on a woman bomber.

I don’t think this is the kind of gender equality women living under Sharia law want.  To be sacrificed like men. 

You just don’t hear about Christians doing things like this.  Or Jews for that matter.  Judeo-Christian societies treat women better than this.  They can show a little skin.  Wear high heels.  Even smile at passersby.  Including men they don’t even know. 

With feminists populating the far Left it just boggles the mind that they fear and hate Christians.  While no such vitriol is ever directed against anything Islamic.  And yet it’s elements in Islam that are doing some of the worse things imaginable against women.  And children (see Afghanistan: Eight-year-old girl ‘used in attack’ posted 6/26/2011 on the BBC).

An eight-year-old girl has been killed after insurgents used her in a bomb attack on police in southern Afghanistan, the government has said.

The interior ministry said insurgents gave the girl a package and told her to take it to a police vehicle, detonating it as she approached…

Correspondents say insurgents have recruited both adult women and recently male children to carry out suicide attacks, though the Taliban denies recruiting children.

According to letters seized during the mission that killed Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda has a marketing problem.  For there was no religious element in the name ‘Al Qaeda’.  And they were losing the PR war with the Americans.  Because Al Qaeda was killing more Muslims than the Americans were.  So bin Laden wanted to change the name to stress the holy war element in the war against the Americans.  But that didn’t happen because of his ‘untimely’ death. 

Apparently he was alone in this view.  Because giving an 8 year girl a package and telling her to take it to the police station without telling her what’s in the package and then detonating the bomb in that package while hiding from a safe distance away doesn’t exactly help put a positive spin on the holy war against the Americans.  Especially when you’re killing Muslim men, women and children by blowing up a bomb being held by a Muslim child.

The Far Left Hates Western Civilization

Islam is a religion of peace that some twist the meaning of to do unspeakable things.  Christianity is a religion of peace, too.  And some may twist the meaning of it to do some unspeakable things.  But if you’re tallying these unspeakable things you’re going to see the tally far greater for one religion than the other.  Unless you don’t consider putting bombs on women and children as unspeakable.

Western societies tend to be Judeo-Christian societies.  And in these societies women have a lot of freedoms.  They can do anything they want.  Have a career.  Go into politics.  Become presidents.  Prime ministers.  Or be porn stars.  They can eat and drink anything they want anywhere they want.  They can go to a movie, a bar or a dance club.  Women have come a long way in Western Civilization.  Nowhere are they empowered more.  And nowhere are they empowered less than in Islamic society.

And yet, despite all of this, the far Left attacks Christianity.  They will say some of the most vile and vicious things.  Insult their institutions.  And openly mock them.  But they don’t do this with Islam.  In fact, if anyone says anything critical of Islam the far Left calls that hate speech.  While their criticism of Christianity is merely free speech.

This makes no sense.  Unless the far Left hates Western Civilization.  Then it makes perfect sense.  The far Left is the liberal Big Government left.  Who wants more government in our lives.  Telling us what’s best for us.  Regulating us.  Controlling us.  And this they have in common with radical Islam.  Because they, too, want to tell their people what’s best for them.  To regulate them.  To control them.

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When it Comes to the Libyan War, Obama must see George W. Bush when he Looks into the Mirror

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 30th, 2011

Dumb things and Turd Sandwiches

President Obama called what he’s doing in Libya dumb.  In 2002 when he was criticizing George W. Bush for toppling the brutal dictator Saddam Hussein in Iraq.   He may not have changed much from this position.  Someone told Savannah Guthrie, NBC News, that the president used a phrase of a national security aide to describe his Libyan operations, calling them a “turd sandwich.”  You have to hand it to the president, he sure knows dumb and turd sandwiches.  Because they really describe well the Obama Doctrine in Libya.  And though it’s not a great delicacy, we the people may have to learn to enjoy this sandwich.  For we may be taking a bite from this sandwich for a very long time.

Libya to become a Recruiting Ground for al Qaeda?

First it was a no-fly zone.  Then we were attacking Qaddafi’s ground forces.  Now we’re taking it up a notch.  We may be supplying arms to the opposition forces.  And Obama has CIA operatives on the ground.  But I’m sure they’re not wearing boots.  For Obama promised there would be no boots on the ground. 

Get ready to take another bite of that sandwich.  Even though the UN Resolution 1973 did not authorize regime change, we’re sure acting like that’s what we’re doing.  And we really don’t know who the opposition is.  But what the hell?  What’s the worst that can happen in this chaotic, rapidly changing situation (see Al Qaeda’s Libya Pilgrimage by Ron Moreau & Sami Yousafzai posted 3/30/2011 on The Daily Beast)?

As debate rages in Washington over whether to arm anti-Gaddafi rebels, an exclusive report by The Daily Beast indicates al Qaeda forces are gearing up to join the rebels and seize power in Libya…

Since the anti-Gaddafi revolution began last month, al Qaeda—especially Libyan-born affiliates—have viewed the fighting as an opportunity to spread their radical Islamist ideology. Indeed, as one Afghan Taliban operative who helps facilitate the movement of al Qaeda militants between the tribal area and Pakistani cities told The Daily Beast earlier this month: “This rebellion is the fresh breeze they’ve been waiting years for. They realize that if they don’t use this opportunity, it could be the end of their chances to turn Libya toward a real Islamic state, as Afghanistan once was…”

According to the Afghan commander, al Qaeda fighters can’t believe their good luck that U.S. and NATO aircraft—the same forces that have dropped bombs on their heads in Afghanistan and Pakistan—are now raining down ordnance against Gaddafi.

You mean our actions in Libya will attract al Qaeda operatives?  Wait a minute.  Let me see if I understand this.  A country where radical Islamists were persecuted and exiled who then went abroad to get battle experience in foreign wars want to come home now because of the Obama Doctrine?  Why, that’s not good.  In fact, Obama can call his actions in Libya dumb again.  For he criticized George W. Bush for doing this in Iraq.  Recruiting al Qaeda where there was no al Qaeda.  And here is Obama.  Recruiting al Qaeda to Libya.  Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

Today, along the tribal border region, al Qaeda’s thirst for more immediate news has led even top leaders like Abu Yahya al-Libi, a Libyan who serves as the movement’s senior Islamist ideologue and bin Laden’s head of operations for Afghanistan, to become almost foolhardy. The Afghan commander says that Yahya and some of his countrymen have even risked visiting villagers’ houses that have satellite television dishes on the roof to watch the latest Western and Middle Eastern news feeds from Libya. Their movements in public areas could easily expose these high value targets to human and UAV surveillance, and a deadly drone strike.

When important bad guys risk their lives for Libyan War updates you know something is afoot.

Whether Yahya himself will return to Libya remains to be seen, but speculation about what he’ll do is rife in the tribal area. “What Yahya will do is on the mind and in the words of everyone,” the Taliban commander adds.  “But I think he is probably preparing for his next move, contacting mujahideen in Libya and watching the situation in Libya…”

“They know they must tread cautiously, and not push too hard, for too much, too soon,” he says. Instead, he says, they expect to take a moderate line at first, while quietly trying to persuade rebel leaders that the preservation of Libyan sovereignty against Western “colonialists” depends on taking an anti-Israeli, anti-American line. Any move toward imposing Islamic sharia law, Yahya’s specialty, will have to come later. Still, Taliban sources say, if Yahya is successful in reaching rebel-held territory inside Libya, at least he’ll be able to operate with relative freedom, without worrying about Gaddafi’s secret police.

Oh my.  This is double plus dumb.  To play on an Orwellian phrase.  Some of us older people may have an eerie feeling of déjà vu.  Because this is how the Iranian Revolution went from democratic uprising to oppressive theocracy.  And we’re providing just the kind of environment to recruit mujahedeen.  Chaos.  Not only that, when they recruit them they may be already armed.  Because of the Obama Doctrine.  Perhaps it’s time to rethink this doctrine.

The Cities we’re Protecting are home to Libyan Jihadists?

All right, it looks like Islamist militants are coming home to Libya.  Thanks to our no-fly zone.  And ground support for the opposition.  Whoever they may be.  So what was this Islamist militant-Qaddafi relationship like?  And who was the real bad guy?  Well, if we focus on just this dynamic it appears that we may be backing the wrong horse (see Jihadist Opportunities in Libya by Scott Stewart posted 2/24/2011 on Stratfor).

Libyans have long participated in militant operations in places like Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chechnya and Iraq. After leaving Afghanistan in the early 1990s, a sizable group of Libyan jihadists returned home and launched a militant campaign aimed at toppling Gadhafi, whom they considered an infidel. The group began calling itself the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) in 1995, and carried out a low-level insurgency that included assassination attempts against Gadhafi and attacks against military and police patrols.

Gadhafi responded with an iron fist, essentially imposing martial law in the Islamist militant strongholds of Darnah and Benghazi and the towns of Ras al-Helal and al-Qubbah in the Jabal al-Akhdar region… Many LIFG members fled the country in the face of the government crackdown and a number of them ended up finding refuge with groups like al Qaeda in places such as Afghanistan.

While the continued participation of Libyan men in fighting on far-flung battlefields was not expressly encouraged by the Libyan government, it was tacitly permitted. The Gadhafi regime, like other countries in the region, saw exporting jihadists as a way to rid itself of potential problems. Every jihadist who died overseas was one less the government had to worry about. This policy did not take into account the concept of “tactical Darwinism,” which means that while the United States and its coalition partners will kill many fighters, those who survive are apt to be strong and cunning. The weak and incompetent have been weeded out, leaving a core of hardened, competent militants. These survivors have learned tactics for survival in the face of superior firepower and have learned to manufacture and effectively employ new types of highly effective improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

In a Nov. 3, 2007, audio message, al Qaeda No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahiri reported that the LIFG had formally joined the al Qaeda network. This statement came as no real surprise, given that members of the group have long been close to al-Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden. Moreover, the core al Qaeda group has long had a large number of Libyan cadre in its senior ranks, including men such as Abu Yahya al-Libi, Anas al-Libi, Abu Faraj al-Libi (who reportedly is being held by U.S. forces at Guantanamo Bay) and Abu Laith al-Libi, who was killed in a January 2008 unmanned aerial vehicle strike in Pakistan.

Oh, oh.  The rebel cities are also home to the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group?  Really?  The people who were killing Americans in Afghanistan and Iraq are the people we’re now helping in Libya?  We’re going to give these people arms?  So they can, basically, continue a struggle they started long ago to overthrow Qaddafi and impose Sharia Law?  Replacing one oppressive regime with another even more oppressive regime?  Do I understand this correctly?  Because this is dumb.  And worthy of the turd sandwich metaphor.

This toppling of brutal dictators is trickier than it looks.

The Libyan government’s security apparatus carefully monitored those Libyans who passed through the crucible of fighting on the battlefield in places like Iraq and Afghanistan and then returned to Libya. Tripoli took a carrot-and-stick approach to the group similar to that implemented by the Saudi regime. As a result, the LIFG and other jihadists were unable to pose a serious threat to the Gadhafi regime, and have remained very quiet in recent years. In fact, they were for the most part demobilized and rehabilitated.

Gadhafi’s son Seif al-Islam oversaw the program to rehabilitate LIFG militants, which his personal charity managed. The regime’s continued concern over the LIFG was clearly demonstrated early on in the unrest when it announced that it would continue the scheduled release from custody of LIFG fighters.

So Libya has been struggling with a Muslim problem.  Of the radical Islamist kind.  And some of those trying to now overthrow the regime may be Islamic militants.  How about that?  Maybe that crazy bastard wasn’t lying.  Maybe there were some chards of truth in Qaddafi’s ramblings.

This deep streak of radicalism in eastern Libya brings us back to the beginning. While it seems unlikely at this point that the jihadists could somehow gain control of Libya, if Gadhafi falls and there is a period of chaos in Libya, these militants may find themselves with far more operating space inside the country than they have experienced in decades…

While Seif al-Islam, who certainly has political motives to hype such a threat, has mentioned this possibility, so have the governments of Egypt and Italy. Should Libya become chaotic and the jihadists become able to establish an operational base amid the chaos, Egypt and Italy will have to be concerned about not only refugee problems but also the potential spillover of jihadists. Certainly, at the very least the weapons looted in Libya could easily be sold or given to jihadists in places like Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria, turning militancy in Libya into a larger regional problem. In a worst-case scenario, if Libya experiences a vacuum of power, it could become the next Iraq or Pakistan, a gathering place for jihadists from around the region and the world. The country did serve as such a base for a wide array of Marxist and rejectionist terrorists and militants in the 1970s and 1980s.

Refugees and jihadists spilling over Libyan borders?  Funny.  Because that’s sort of the focal point of the Obama Doctrine.  To prevent spillover.  That’s why we’re there.  To keep the region stable.  Avoid chaos.  And had we not intervened we may have just done that.  With less loss of life than we may have in this worst-case scenario.  And have a more stable Libya to boot.  But now we may have to nation-build for a third time in a Muslim country.  Or see jihadists radicalize the entire region.  In other words, turd sandwich.

Obama Doctrine or Chaos Theory?

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse in the Libyan War.  Obama Doctrine?  Truth be told there is no Obama Doctrine.  It’s chaos theory.  Without the theory.  For we sure seem to be doing a lot of things without thinking them through first.  Of course it could be worse.  If we did these things after thinking them through.  And we’re getting exactly what we expected.

Pass that sandwich.

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Obama’s ‘help’ may Lose the Middle East to Radical Islam

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 25th, 2011

Libya no Worse than other Humanitarian Crises

Everyone is still asking that question.  Why Libya?  The Middle East and Africa are full of humanitarian crises.  Yet we’re not bombing them.  Is their suffering not as bad as the Libyan suffering?  Or are their people simply not worth saving?  People want to know.  Because people are suffering everywhere. 

[Syria]  Violence erupted around Syria on Friday as troops opened fire on protesters in several cities and pro- and anti-government crowds clashed on the tense streets of the capital in the most widespread unrest in years, witnesses said.  -By Associated Press, The Washington Post, 3/25/2011 

[Bahrain]  Clashes erupted in Shiite villages across Bahrain on Friday as antigovernment protesters defied a government ban on public gatherings, despite a beefed-up presence by the military and security forces.  -By Joe Parkinson, The Wall Street Journal, 3/25/2011 

[Ivory Coast]  Up to one million Ivorians have now fled fighting in the main city Abidjan alone, with others uprooted across the country, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said on Friday as violence escalated in a 4-month power struggle.  – Stephany Nebehay, Reuters, 3/25/2011 

[Yemen]  With hundreds of thousands of rival demonstrators on Sanaa’s streets, soldiers fired warning shots to prevent loyalists whipped up by Mr Saleh’s speech attacking anti-regime protesters on Friday, the Muslim day of prayers and rest… The rallies came one week after a bloodbath in which 52 protesters were gunned down by Saleh loyalists, drawing widespread international condemnation and a spate of defections from within his ruling circle.  -By AFP, ABC News, 3/25/2011 

And there’s more.  Iran.  North Korea.  And others.  It’s everywhere.  Suffering.  But you know why we’re not helping any of these nations?  Because it’s too much for anyone to do.  Suffering is bad but it is NOT the United States’ duty to end it all.  And yet we’re trying to do just that in Libya.  Was the Qaddafi regime a great threat to American security interests?  No.  He’s been pretty quiet since the Iraq War.  He seemed content to oppress his people and leave others alone.  Perhaps the others noted above were even less dangerous than Qaddafi.  Perhaps in comparison they’re just docile pussy cats.

If any Nation Deserves Regime Change it’s Syria

Let’s look at Syria.  They make no secret of the fact that they don’t like America.  Or Israel.  They are behind a lot of unrest in the Middle East.  They want to see the whole region under Sharia Law.  And be less friendly with the West.  As bad as Qaddafi was, he did sell a lot of his oil to the West.  So that would make Syria more of a national security concern than Libya.  But we’re not bombing Syria.  Perhaps the Syrian violence just isn’t that bad (see Resident says troops open fire on protesters in Daraa, other Syrian cities by Associated Press posted 3/25/2011 on The Washington Post).

The violence erupted after tens of thousands of Syrians took to the streets across the country, shouting calls for greater freedoms in support of a more than week-long uprising in Daraa, according to witnesses, activists and footage posted online…

An activist in Damascus in touch with eyewitnesses in the southern village of Sanamein said troops there opened fire on demonstrators trying to march to Daraa, a short distance away. He said there had been witness reports of fatalities, some claiming as many as 20 slain, but those could not be independently confirmed…

About 200 people demonstrated after the Friday prayers at the Thawra Bridge, near the central Marjeh Square, chanting “our souls, our blood we sacrifice for you Daraa!” and “freedom! freedom!” They were chased by security forces who beat them some of them with batons and detained others, an activist said on condition of anonymity for fear of government reprisals.

No.  That isn’t it.  That’s some pretty bad violence.  That’s Qaddafi bad.  Killing your own people.  And it is far worse than what Mubarak was doing in Egypt.  He didn’t turn the army against his people.  And yet Obama said he had to go. But we’re not attacking Syria.  With bombs.  Or words.  Perhaps Syria is a strategic force for stability in the Middle East.  Like how Iraq balanced Iran once upon a time.  We supported Iraq then.  Because Iraq balanced the greater risk in Iran.  Like that old saying.  The enemy of my enemy is my friend.  So maybe Syria offsets the ‘big bad’ in the Middle East.

Assad, a close ally of Iran and its regional proxies, Hezbollah and Hamas, has promised increased freedoms for discontented citizens and increased pay and benefits for state workers — a familiar package of incentives offered by other nervous Arab regimes in recent weeks.

No.  That ain’t it either.  Syria is cozy with all the ‘big bads’ in the Middle East.  The powers that want to kill Jews, Americans and all other infidels.  But wait.  It gets worse.

Shaaban, the presidential adviser, also said the Baath party would study ending a state of emergency that it put in place after taking power in 1963.

The emergency laws, which have been a feature of many Arab countries, allow people to be arrested without warrants and imprisoned without trial. Human rights groups say violations of other basic liberties are rife in Syria, with torture and abuse common in police stations, detention centers and prisons, and dissenters regularly imprisoned for years without due process.

The Baath party?  Sound familiar?  That was the party of Saddam Hussein.  Emergency laws since 1963?  Arrests without warrants?  Imprisoned without trial?  Torture and abuse?  No due process?  This is bad stuff.  What some would call a humanitarian crisis.  Like the one in Libya.  But as bad as that all sounds, it’s the Iraq connection that is most troubling.

Before the Iraq War, Iraq and Syria were close.  So close that many think those weapons of mass destruction we were looking for in Iraq were hidden in Syria during the run-up to war.  We know Saddam had them.  He used them on the Iranians.  And the Kurds.  But he never documented their destruction.  So if he hid them in Syria they may still be there.  They may have been hesitant to use them thus far because we could probably trace them back to them.  Especially if they had Iraqi markings on them.  But if all these ‘democracy’ movements in the Middle East and North Africa gather steam, they could become a problem.  If the region goes Muslim Brotherhood and is closer to Iran and/or al Qaeda, Syria won’t be the only country to see the world the way they do.  And they may feel safe enough to use these weapons.  Should they have them.  Oh, and Israel would be surrounded by countries that have the destruction of Israel at the top of their top-10 list.  And that is very bad.  Because that could start a world war.  Shut off the oil supply to the Western economies.  And plunge the world into a depression.

The Muslim Brotherhood Establishing an Islamic State in Egypt?

So let’s back up a bit.  Let’s take a closer look at these ‘democracy’ movements.  Are they really democracy movements?  Or are they more theocracy movements?  Well, in Egypt, things aren’t looking good for democracy (see Islamist Group Is Rising Force in a New Egypt by Michael Slackman posted 3/24/2011 on The New York Times).

In post-revolutionary Egypt, where hope and confusion collide in the daily struggle to build a new nation, religion has emerged as a powerful political force, following an uprising that was based on secular ideals. The Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group once banned by the state, is at the forefront, transformed into a tacit partner with the military government that many fear will thwart fundamental changes.

It is also clear that the young, educated secular activists who initially propelled the nonideological revolution are no longer the driving political force — at least not at the moment.

Sound familiar?  This is what happened in Iran.  The young people who started the revolution didn’t end the revolution.  Ayatollah Khomeini ended it.  With one of the most oppressive theocracies in the Middle East.  And those young women in the Iranian Revolution?  They don’t protest anymore.  They live good Muslim lives under Sharia Law.  Whether they like it or not.

“There is evidence the Brotherhood struck some kind of a deal with the military early on,” said Elijah Zarwan, a senior analyst with the International Crisis Group…

 “We are all worried,” said Amr Koura, 55, a television producer, reflecting the opinions of the secular minority. “The young people have no control of the revolution anymore. It was evident in the last few weeks when you saw a lot of bearded people taking charge. The youth are gone…”

When the new prime minister, Essam Sharaf, addressed the crowd in Tahrir Square this month, Mohamed el-Beltagi, a prominent Brotherhood member, stood by his side. A Brotherhood member was also appointed to the committee that drafted amendments to the Constitution.

The big question was would Mubarak turn the army on the people.  Or, should he, if the army would follow that order.  You see, the people respected the army.  Most had family that had or were serving in the army.  The army was good.  It was the security forces the people hated.  Not the army.  It was the army the people thought they could trust.  And now we’re hearing that they struck a deal with the Muslim Brotherhood?  That’s very ominous.  As are the beards.  That’s hardcore, conservative Islam.  Like they have in Iran.  And that sure ain’t what the protestors wanted in Egypt.  I mean, there were women in those crowds.  If Egypt goes the way of the bearded men, these women will never protest anything ever again.  Just like in Iran.

And the lying has begun.  Egypt was a secular country.  But they still had their religion.  It was still a Muslim country.  Like Turkey.  There’s the state.  And the religion.  Both very important parts of life in these countries.  But separate parts.  Now it appears secular means state atheism.  Like in the former Soviet Union.  Or in parts of America where anything goes.  According to the more radical elements in Egypt, at least.

“The problem is that our country will be without a religion,” read a flier distributed in Cairo by a group calling itself the Egyptian Revolution Society. “This means that the call to the prayer will not be heard anymore like in the case of Switzerland, women will be banned from wearing the hijab like in the case of France,” it said, referring to the Muslim head scarf. “And there will be laws that allow men to get married to men and women to get married to women like in the case of America.”

Talk about scare tactics.  If you don’t vote for a more conservative Islam there will be no Islam.  People will be free.  Women will be free.  And gay, I guess.  All horrible thoughts to the conservative Muslim.  And a lot of Muslim men who are just not fans of feminism.

This is not to say that the Brotherhood is intent on establishing an Islamic state…

None of that has changed, Mr. Erian, the spokesman, said in an interview. “We are keen to spread our ideas and our values,” he said. “We are not keen for power.”

He would not comment on whether the Brotherhood had an arrangement with the military, but he said the will of the people to shift toward Islam spoke for itself and was a sign of Egypt’s emerging democratic values. “Don’t trust the intellectuals, liberals and secularists,” Mr. Erian said. “They are a minor group crying all the time. If they don’t work hard, they have no future.”

Warning Klaxons should be going off.  These are things that dictators say before they oppress their people.  Why, you can almost see the reassuring eyes and the soothing voice of Ayatollah Khomeini as he calmed the anxious Iranian people shortly after 1979.  Before those eyes became scary.  And we all saw how that turned out.  Oppressive theocratic rule.  And the odds just got better for the same in Egypt.

Virginity Tests in Egypt

And it’s already started (see Egypt women protesters forced to take ‘virginity tests’ posted 3/24/2011 on the BBC).

A leading rights group says the Egyptian army arrested, tortured and forced women to take “virginity tests” during protests earlier this month.

Amnesty International is calling on the authorities in Cairo to investigate.

It says at least 18 female protesters were arrested after army officers cleared Tahrir Square on 9 March.

It says they were then beaten, given electric shocks and strip searched.

The army denies the allegations.

This isn’t what the women in the crowds were protesting for.  And the reason these women were protesting?  Because they could.  Egypt was one of the most progressive countries in the Middle East.  Women had some of the greatest freedoms enjoyed in a Muslim country.  Not anymore.

A 20-year-old woman, Salwa Hosseini, told Amnesty she was forced to take off all her clothes by a female prison guard in a room with open doors and a window.

She said that male soldiers looked in and took photographs of her while she was naked.

The demonstrator said a man in a white coat later carried out a ‘virginity check’ on her and she was threatened with prostitution charges.

“Forcing women to have ‘virginity tests’ is utterly unacceptable. Its purpose is to degrade women because they are women,” a spokesperson for Amnesty International said in a statement.

Mubarak may have been bad.  But he wasn’t that bad.  The painful moral of this story is to be careful what you ask for.  The enemy you know is often better than the enemy you don’t know.  Unfortunately we sometimes learn this lesson too late.  Including presidents.  For it was a mistake to throw Mubarak under the bus.  Middle East scholars knew it then.  And the rest of us are learning it now.  And now we’re helping to destabilize Libya.  That, too, could turn out to be a mistake.  Because we don’t know who the rebels are.  Just like we didn’t know who they were in Egypt.  So the chances are good that what happens in Egypt could very well happen in Libya.  A “shift towards Islam.”

Of course, there are a couple of countries in the Middle East that probably warrant our involvement.  Two come to mind.  Iran.  And Syria.  Things could only get better in these countries.  Yet we don’t help the protesters in these sovereign countries.  So when President Obama finally tells us why Libya, perhaps he can tell us why not in countries that already hate us.  And while he’s explaining these great mysteries perhaps he can tell us why he’s undermining our allies in the Middle East.  Is there a method to this madness?  Or is it just madness?

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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.

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