Egypt

Tue, December 9, 2014 Egypt Uses Ferguson to Hit US Over Brotherhood Policy

Police use tear gas during the first wave of the Ferguson unrest.

Police use tear gas during the first wave of the Ferguson unrest.

by: 
Ryan Mauro

While Islamists have exploited the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, Egypt has been using the protests to hit back at America for criticizing Egypt’s crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood.

An Egyptian government commission reviewing the Muslim Brotherhood recently concluded that the Brotherhood deserves most of the blame for the bloodshed that occurred during the overthrow of former President Mohammed Morsi, an Islamist and member of the Brotherhood of. The study also faulted the military and police.

In August, when protests began after Michael Brown was shot by a policeman in Ferguson, the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement urging “restraint and respect for the right of assembly and peaceful expression of opinion.” The language was very similar to that of the White House when it repeatedly condemned Egypt and called for the release of Muslim Brotherhood prisoners.

Egyptian officials have continued in this same theme.

The former vice president of the Supreme Constitutional Court, Tahani al-Gebali, said that international human rights groups, including an Egyptian fact-finding group, should be allowed to monitor the situation in Ferguson. Again, the comment mirrors those used by the Obama Administration about the U.S. monitoring the Egyptian crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood protesters.

When Gebali was asked by Al-Monitor about the apparent comparison she was drawing between Egypt’s crackdown on the protesters and Ferguson, she explained that it was a response to the American position on Muslim Brotherhood.

“The situation was different in Egypt, as there was a revolution and a change of rules. As a result, the U.S.’ leaning toward the Brotherhood, which was toppled by the revolution, created doubts about the intentions of U.S. organizations,” she said.

Manal Al-Tibi of the National Council for Human Rights said her organization would not get involved in the Ferguson situation and that Egyptians calling for a fact-finding mission are just trying to make a point.

“[They are] definitely playing political games, to transmit a retaliatory message to the U.S. system and human rights organizations as a response to their repetitive criticism of the human rights situation in Egypt lately,” she said.

U.S.-Egyptian relations have been rocky since the U.S. opposed the popularly supported overthrow of Morsi and banned the Muslim Brotherhood. The new Egyptian government responded by embracing Russia.

In an August 2013 interview with the Washington Post, Egypt’s then military commander (and current President)  El-Sisi said, “You left the Egyptians, you turned your back on the Egyptians and they won’t forget that. Now you want to continue turning your backs on Egyptians? The U.S. interest and the popular will of the Egyptians don’t have to conflict.”

“The title of the article should be ‘Hey America: Where is your support for Egypt? Where is your support for free people?’...What I want the American reader to know is that this is a free people who rebelled against an unjust political rule, and this free people needs your support.”

El-Sisi said the Muslim Brotherhood ideology is “based on restoring the Islamic religious empire” and is an international organization in 60 countries. He explained that “Hamas is part of the Muslim Brotherhood.”

Other Muslim partners in the Middle East have expressed disappointment with the U.S. on the issue of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic State and Iran.

The United Arab Emirates recently banned the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group, along with some of its Western affiliates like the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Muslim American Society and  Islamic Relief.

The UAE defended its decision amid criticism by powerful Islamist groups in the U.S. and Europe. In response, a senior UAE official said the outcry in the Western world shows the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood’s affiliates.

Similarly, over the summer, prominent Iraqi leaders criticized the U.S. Former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, an enemy of both Sunni and Shiite Islamists, said U.S. policy “has been without a compass” and “in disarray,” especially by “siding with Iran.”

The Iraqi ambassador to the U.S., Lukman Faily, likewise said the impression of America as an unreliable ally would force his government to be “in an uncomfortable position in seeking support from whoever is available on the ground.”

“A lot of people in different positions in government, in addition to the people of Iraq are asking us, would the U.S. support a democratically elected government in this war on aggression by an international terrorist organization? That is a serious question for the U.S. to answer,” Faily said.

U.S. policy towards Iran is especially concerning for Sunni Arab partners.

The Crown Prince of Bahrain described U.S. policy towards Iran and Egypt as suffering from “schizophrenia” and warned that the countries in the region would see the Russians as more reliable partners.

The Saudis have likewise complained over these issues, with the intelligence shift envisioning a "major shift" away from the U.S. so the country is more independent. This could mean nuclear weapons construction, as senior Saudi officials have said they will do if Iran’s program progresses too far.

Nuclear experts said in February that they are seeing indications that Saudi Arabia is gathering the necessary technology and expertise. The Saudis are also widely believed to have financed the Pakistani nuclear weapons program so they can have access to the bombs if necessary.

The Egyptian use of Ferguson to needle the U.S. is a snapshot of a broader trend across the region where aspiring partners against Islamist terrorists, the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran view the U.S. as a naïve and unreliable friend without strategic sense.

 

Ryan Mauro is ClarionProject.org’s national security analyst, a fellow with Clarion Project and an adjunct professor of homeland security. Mauro is frequently interviewed on top-tier television and radio.

Imprisonment, Torture in Egypt: The Case of a Christian Convert

Bishoy Armia Boulous's Egyptian identity card

Bishoy Armia Boulous's Egyptian identity card

by: 
Raymond Ibrahim

According to attorney Karam Ghobrial (“Gabriel”), his client, Bishoy Armia Boulous, a Muslim convert to Christianity, remains illegally incarcerated and has “vowed to starve himself to death.”

Bishoy, more notoriously known as Mohammed Hegazy, is the first Egyptian ever to try legally to change his religious identity from Muslim to Christian on his official ID, prompting much shock and outrage in Muslim-majority Egypt.

Ghobrial further cited that Bishoy’s detention—in the execution room no less—is illegal, prompted solely by malicious charges against him, all of which stem from his original attempt to formally change his religious identity.

In the words of his lawyer: “Bishoy is imprisoned in the execution room in violation of the law.  Trumped up charges against him have not been proven and he is being treated even worse.  He has not seen the light [of day] since being released from Minya’s misdemeanor court.”

Bishoy was arrested in July 2014.  Then, the judge in Minya cited “disturbing the peace by broadcasting false information” as the reason for sentencing the apostate, who in the weeks before was documenting political unrest in Egypt brought on by numerous Islamic attacks on Christians.   He was eventually released, but then immediately scooped up again by State Security acting on behalf of Cairo, now under the charge of insulting the Islamic faith.

Bishoy’s lawyer further said that “the [current] judge is behaving in a prejudiced manner in this case because Bishoy had public announced his conversion to Christianity.”  He stressed the “need for attention to this case, and escalating it, so everyone knows what this convert is being exposed to.”

Bishoy has been imprisoned for nearly six months, without any action being done in his case.  He is being held on charges of “contempt to the Islamic religion” and reportedly spreading “false news” about the existence of State Security “torture chambers” where Muslim converts to Christianity are detained and tortured.  Bishoy apparently refuses to recant this claim (quite possibly because he himself is now experiencing it first hand).

As lawyer Karam Ghobrial maintains, it is clear that the real reason his client is being tortured in prison—where he is being held illegally under ever morphing charges—has to do with what made Bishoy Armia, formerly Mohammed Hegazy, notorious in Egypt in the first place: his audacity not only to convert to Christianity, but to try formally to change his religious identity from Muslim to Christian on his ID card, prompting much enmity for him in Egypt.

In short, Bishoy is just another prisoner of conscience, just another born Muslim who wishes to be Christian—but whose actions have been deemed offensive to the state.  His story occurs with great frequency all around the Islamic world.  In nearby Iran, for example, Iranian-American Christian pastor Saeed Abedini—also seen as an apostate agitator—continues to rot in prison.

 

Raymond Ibrahim is the author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam's New War in Christians (published by Regnery in cooperation with Gatestone Institute, April 2013). He is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an associate fellow at the Middle East Forum. Mr. Ibrahim's dual-background—born and raised in the U.S. by Egyptian parents —has provided him with unique advantages to understanding of the Western and Middle Eastern mindsets.

Tue, November 18, 2014 Bloody Proxy War in Libya: Qatar & Turkey vs. UAE & Egypt

Still from footage of Libya's ongoing violence.

Still from footage of Libya's ongoing violence.

by: 
Elliot Friedland

Fresh clashes broke out in the Libyan capital Tripoli on Sunday, forcing the city's airport to close down. Mitiga airport has functioned as Tripoli's primary airport since Tripoli International Airport was damaged and ceased to operate in August.

The clashes are merely the latest outbreak of violence in a rapidly worsening civil war that is serving as a proxy war for the region's wider conflict. The United Arab Emirates and Egypt back General Khilafa Haftar and an alliance of secularist and nationalist forces opposed to what the al-Arabiya Institute for Studies terms "the Qatari-Turkish axis supporting regional political Islam."

Libya has descended into civil war since May 16, when General Hafter launched what he termed 'Operation Dignity' against an alliance of Islamist militias. He led a patchwork of militias and Libyan army units in an assault on the Islamist stronghold of Benghazi, which was repulsed. After that, however, army units and secular and nationalist militias flocked to his banner, while Islamists of varying stripes ranged against him.  

Included in the ranks of the Islamist militias are Ansar al-Sharia, the terrorist group widely suspected to be responsible for the 2012 Benghazi attacks on the US consulate that killed US Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other US officials. The Islamist forces also include the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood.

Elections in July saw Islamist factions reduced to a fraction of their former strength in Parliament, winning only 30 seats out of 200. Turnout was only 18%, and voting was marred in areas such as Derna with violence. 

The new parliament, relocated to the eastern city of Tobruk. This parliament is regarded as the legitimate one by the UN and much of the international community. The previous parliament is in Tripoli and is supported by the Islamists. It also appointed a government. 

On November 6 the Tobruk parliament was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in Tripoli. However, parliamentarians in Tobruk immediately hit back, saying that because Tripoli is largely in the hands of Islamists, the Supreme Court's decision was made under duress. The Tobruk parliament refused to disband.

Egypt and the UAE launched bombing raids on Islamist targets in Libya as far back as August, using Egyptian airbases. At the beginning of October, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi formalized the relationship, officially offering General Hafter's forces training and intelligence in order to subdue Islamist terrorists that pose a threat to Egypt's own borders. In retaliation for their involvement, Islamists planted car bombs outside the embassies of the two countries last week. No-one was hurt as both embassies had been evacuated months before.

For their part, Turkey and Qatar have been reportedly been supporting their Islamist allies. In October, a representative of Turkey's Islamist President Tayyip Recep Erdogan met with the leader of the Tripoli parliament, which is Islamist controlled. He has also maintained Turkish airlines flights to the Islamist held city of Misrata.

Libyan Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni said Qatar sent 3 loaded planes with weapons to Tripoli. This is in keeping with Qatar's actions throughout the region. One diplomat from an undisclosed MENA country spoke to Telegraph saying "They [Qatar] are partly responsible for Jabhat al-Nusra having money and weapons and everything they need." Jabhat al-Nusra is the official Al-Qaeda affiliate fighting in the Syrian Civil War.

Qatar's involvement in Libya goes back to the revolution that overthrew former Prime Minister Muammar Gaddafi. In 2012, then leader of the Libyan National Transitional Council Mustafa Abdul Jibril said at a Ramadan celebration event: "Doha [Qatar] has been supporting Islamic movements as part of its vision to help establish an Arab regime that adopts Islamic Shariah law as a main source of governance." He said that Qatar had contributed $2 billion to the revolution.

On June 22, a spokesman for General Haftar gave all Turkish and Qatari citizens 48 hours to leave the country due to their governments' support for the Islamist militias.

The New York Times reported the hardening attitudes across the battle lines. A Libyan business mogul speaking from the Emirates in August, Hassan Tatanaki said “It is a struggle across the region. We are in a state of war and this is no time for compromise. Many former Gaddafi fighters have come back to Libya and taken up arms again against the Islamists, even alongside erstwhile foes. Although many groups have chosen sides due to ideological differences, ethnic, tribal and geographical divisions have played a key role. In particular, the Zintan brigades support Haftar and the Tobruk parliament while those hailing from the port city of Misrata back the Islamist government in Tripoli.

To further complicate the situation, Islamists in Derna in the east of Libya have separated entirely from the rest of the country, declaring loyalty to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and Derna a province of the Islamic State.

The UN sent an envoy, Bernardino Leon, to Libya with a remit to try and reconcile the two sides. On Oct. 29 he said "I think this country is running out of time. The danger for the country is that in the past weeks we are getting very close to the point of no return."

UN High Commission on Refugees spokesperson Adrian Edwards gave a press statement on November 14 about the worsening humanitarian crisis in Libya. He said "At least 106,420 people have fled their homes in the past month alone, meaning that displacement amid the violence since May now exceeds 393,400 people."

The deteriorating situation in Libya is further evidence of a region in turmoil. The bloodshed is greatly exacerbated by the relentless funding of Islamist militias across the region by Turkey and Qatar. 

Five Egyptian Security Ppersonnel Killed in Sinai Gun Attacks

Submitted by Emily on Thu, 2014-11-13 07:57

URL: 
http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/11/13/us-egypt-attacks-sinai-idUSKCN0IX15Z20141113
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Sinai Terrorists Group Pledges Allegiance to ISIS

Submitted by Emily on Wed, 2014-11-12 11:35

URL: 
http://edition.cnn.com/2014/11/11/world/isis-egypt/index.html?hpt=hp_t2
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Human Rights Watch on Egypt Security Force Misleading

Muslim Brotherhood Protesters in Egypt (Photo: © Reuters)

Muslim Brotherhood Protesters in Egypt (Photo: © Reuters)

by: 
Tawfik Hamid

Human Rights Watch (HRW) argued in a recent report that Egyptian security forces intentionally killed at least 817 protesters during what they dubbed the "Rabaa massacre" last August. In fact, they described the attack as equal to, or worse, than China's Tiananmen Square killings in 1989. 

The 195-page investigation based on interviews with 122 survivors and witnesses has found Egypt's police and army "systematically and deliberately killed largely unarmed protesters on political grounds" in actions that "likely amounted to crimes against humanity."

The report recommends that several senior individuals within Egypt's security apparatus be investigated and, where appropriate, held to account for their role in planning the incident.

This HRW report is defective on several levels.

First, it relied primarily on a pool of biased witnesses. Those who were protesting in Rabba were more than likely supporters of the Islamists and thus predisposed to provide false -- or at least jaundiced --information that would hurt the Egyptian military. HRW should have given equal voice to the opponents of Morsi, particularly those who live near Rabba. As it happens, there were witnesses who were against both the Islamists and the military -- in other words, who were unbiased. And some of them actually videotaped the heinous crimes committed by the Islamists in Rabba prior to the intervention of the military.

The HRW report opted to ignore these important eyewitness accounts. 

Ignoring the crimes of the Islamists seems to fit quite nicely with the HRW modus operandi. Nick Cohen, writing in The Spectator in February 2013, castigated Human Rights Watch for "looking with horror on those who speak out about murder, mutilation and oppression if the murderers, mutilators and oppressors do not fit into their script."

One of the most shocking examples of the tendentiousness of the HRW report was the fact that they happily accepted the reporting of Mr. Maged Atef (a Newsweek journalist) when his reflections suited their purposes (i.e., criticism of the Egyptian military), but they flatly ignored his testimony when he blamed the violent protesters for killing police officers (which, according to Mr. Atef, sparked the violence that followed in Rabaa). That little tidbit, which Mr. Atef himself witnessed, completely changes the story. Rather than a planned attack by the military as conveyed in the HRW report, it seems it was instead a reaction to lethal violence initiated by the Islamist protesters.

Of course, the cherry picking of information by HRW is neither surprising nor unexpected. Their own founder has accused HRW of bias in research methods and evidence gathering. Robert Bernstein, founder of HRW, accused the organization of poor research for relying on "witnesses whose stories cannot be verified and who may testify for political advantage." Furthermore, according to The Times, HRW "does not always practice the transparency, tolerance and accountability it urges on others." In fact, in 2012, New Europe wrote that HRW "allegedly erased references in its reports to its previous cooperation with the Gaddafi regime, including the role of the organization's MENA Director, Sarah Leah Whitson, in marketing Saif al-Islam Gaddafi as a reformer."

The HRW report on Egypt did mention that the demonstrators were armed, but with only a limited number of weapons. It remains unclear how just a few HRW reporters managed to count the number of weapons in such big crowd and in such a chaotic environment. Did they simply ask every Islamist whether or not they were carrying a weapon? Or perhaps they patted down each demonstrator in order to get an accurate count of the number of weapons in the crowd. The report also failed to mention the huge number of weapons that were discovered in storage areas in Rabba. Rupert Murdoch, owner of The Times, accused HRW of a lack of sufficient expertise to report on fighting or war situations.

And by the way, HRW's admission that the demonstrators in Rabaa were armed suggests that perhaps the Egyptian security forces in fact behaved prudently. And it utterly undermines any comparison to China's Tiananmen Square killings in 1989, where the demonstrators were most certainly not armed.

The claim that the protesters were not given enough time to leave the place is challenged by what millions have already seen on the Arab media: Thousands of protesters left Rabba peacefully after the police had informed them that they could leave safely and would not be persecuted. Indeed, the videos clearly show that the police were protecting the protesters who chose to leave peacefully. Those who remained in Rabba after being given fair warning and the opportunity to leave peacefully were the radical Islamist fighters who are by definition quite prepared to fight unto death.

In short, the recent report of HRW regarding the Rabaa incident in Egypt seems to be at best biased, unprofessional and misleading.

 

Dr. Tawfik Hamid is an Islamic thinker and reformer, and one-time Islamic extremist from Egypt. He was a member of a terrorist Islamic organization JI with Dr. Ayman Al-Zawaherri who became later on the second in command of Al-Qaeda. Hamid recognized the threat of radical Islam and the need for a reformation based upon modern peaceful interpretations of classical Islamic core texts. Dr. Hamid is currently a Senior Fellow and Chair of the study of Islamic Radicalism at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies.

 

Egypt Court Dissolves Muslim Brotherhood Party

Submitted by Emily on Mon, 2014-08-11 03:42

URL: 
http://online.wsj.com/articles/egypt-court-dissolves-muslim-brotherhood-party-1407585929?mod=WSJ_hppMIDDLENexttoWhatsNewsSecond
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Egypt’s Military Ruler Suffers an Embarrassment at the Polls

Submitted by Emily on Sun, 2014-06-01 07:25

URL: 
http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/egypts-military-ruler-suffers-an-embarrassment-at-the-polls/2014/05/28/770e52c8-e68e-11e3-a86b-362fd5443d19_story.html
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