Algeria’s civil war is a dreadful precedent for Egypt

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This disgusting story shows why all-out war is only appropriate response to #Egypt‘s MuslimBrotherhood #Sacrilege: …

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Algeria’s civil war is a dreadful precedent for Egypt

The parallels between the brutal civil war in Algeria and Egypt’s recent experience after the overthrow of Mohammed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood government is startling

Supporters of President Morsi flee from tear gas and rubber bullets fired by riot police in Cairo

Supporters of President Morsi flee from tear gas and rubber bullets fired by riot police in Cairo Photo: REUTERS

8:05PM BST 19 Aug 2013

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The generals are masters of Cairo and their footsoldiers are cannon fodder in the deserts of Sinai. Yesterday’s killing of 24 policemen near Egypt’s eastern frontier provides another vivid sign of how violence is taking hold across the Arab world’s most populous country.

But this incident also strikes an echo of the first stirrings of civil war in another Arab nation where the army seized power at the expense of radical Islamists. Just over two decades ago, the ambush and murder of policemen signalled the onset of armed revolt in Algeria. Often, busloads of officers were waylaid by gunmen and shot on the spot, which seems to be what happened in Egypt yesterday.

Before long, Algeria’s Islamist insurgents had graduated to attacking the army, planting bombs in the capital and, worst of all, carrying out night-time massacres in defenceless villages across the “bled”, as the country’s coastal landscape is known.

When this singularly brutal civil war finally subsided in the early years of this century, perhaps 100,000 people had been killed. A shadowy cabal of generals, impossible to dislodge and known to Algerians as “le pouvoir”, still pulled the strings of power. “Once again,” reads a history of Algeria’s conflict, “le pouvoir had exhibited its enduring dominance as it recaptured the instruments of authority through direct control of the state.”

The bloodshed began after an Islamist party called the Islamic Salvation Front won the first round of Algeria’s parliamentary election in December 1991. Instead of allowing it to take power, the army mounted a coup in January 1992, cancelling the second round of elections and seizing control of the government. The Islamists, denied the chance to win office via the ballot box, decided that force was the only way.

The parallel between these tragic events in Algeria and Egypt’s recent experience is startling. For the Islamic Salvation Front, read the Muslim Brotherhood, and a pattern falls into place.

In Cairo on July 3, the army overthrew an elected president from the Muslim Brotherhood and assumed de facto power. On Sunday, the cabinet appointed by the generals debated whether to ban the Brotherhood and revive the prohibition that held sway until Hosni Mubarak’s downfall in 2011.

If this step is taken, Egypt’s new rulers will have adopted the Algerian solution to the challenge of political Islam. This can be summed up as “deny, ban and suppress”: namely, deny the Islamists power, even if they win a fair election; ban their parties, however popular they might be; and lock up their supporters at every opportunity. Hundreds of Brotherhood figures are behind bars in Egypt and the official death toll from the operation to clear the protest camps and break up demonstrations stands at 879.

If the regime now adopts the last piece of the Algerian recipe and restores the ban on the Brotherhood, the Islamists might feel compelled to take matters into their own hands. Deprived of the freedom to campaign and organise, they might follow their Algerian counterparts and choose armed insurrection instead – or so goes the warning.

Fortunately, there are good reasons to believe this will be avoided. For all the obvious parallels, there are vital differences between events in Egypt and Algeria. The most striking is that Algeria’s Islamists were never allowed to take power: the coup of 1992 successfully kept them out. In Egypt, by contrast, the Muslim Brotherhood won both parliamentary and presidential elections – and Mohammed Morsi duly became Egypt’s president in June last year. No one stood in the way of the Brotherhood assuming the power granted by their election victories. The problem was Mr Morsi’s lamentable performance in office. The key moment came in November 2012 when he issued a decree that effectively swept aside all legal restraints on his authority and, with one blow, repudiated the ideals of the revolution against dictatorship.

Incidentally, remember how the Brotherhood originally promised not to run for the presidency after Mr Mubarak’s fall? What if they had kept this pledge? The first president of the new Egypt would have been, say, Ahmed Shafik, a hold-over from the old regime, or perhaps Amr Moussa, a former head of the Arab League. The new leader would probably have failed spectacularly, overwhelmed by crisis on every front. What would have happened next? Millions of Egyptians would have implored the Brotherhood to accept power as the only alternative to army rule.

Instead, the Brotherhood broke its promise – and now Mr Morsi is out and the generals are in. What is more, the signs are that this was a popular coup. After decades of preparation for Mr Mubarak’s fall, Mr Morsi and his colleagues simply dug their own political graves. Algeria’s Islamists, robbed of their election victory, had the mantle of victimhood. Their Egyptian counterparts, by contrast, succumbed to hubris.

But the Brotherhood’s bedrock of popular support, constructed over decades, remains intact. Given time, they could recover. In essence, the Algeria option means excluding Islamists from politics, regardless of how many votes they might win. For Egypt’s rulers to ban the Brotherhood – which was capable of winning elections as recently as 2012 – would be the height of folly. Mr Morsi fell victim to his own hubris. The generals must not do the same – for Algeria provides a dreadful warning.

Egypt is becoming a proxy conflict

By Max Fisher, Published: August 19 at 1:15 pmE-mail the writer

Turkish pro-Morsi protesters carry posters depicting Egypt's top general, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah outside the U.S. embassy in Ankara. (ADEM ALTAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Turkish pro-Morsi protesters carry posters depicting Egypt’s top general, Abdel Fatah al-Sissi, and Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah outside the U.S. Embassy in Ankara. (Adem Altan/AFP/Getty Images)

On Monday morning, Saudi Arabian Prince Saud al-Faisal, who is also the world’s longest-serving foreign minister, announced that certain Arab states would be willing to replace any cut in Western aid to Egypt. For a few billion dollars to change hands would be unsurprising; Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab states have supported Egypt’s military coup government rhetorically and financially. But the announcement was also a bit of slap at the United States, perhaps Saudi Arabia’s most important ally, and a sign of the growing regional divide as outside powers jockey to shape Egypt’s future.

Those proxy efforts are raising the stakes within Egypt, giving both the military and Islamists more reason to fight and less reason to compromise. They’re also exacerbating some of the regional fault lines that first emerged when the Arab Spring began more than two years ago and that have only widened since. And they pose yet another dilemma for the Obama administration, which has appeared hesitant to take sides in Egypt.

Prince Saud’s statement came in implicit response to some ever-so-gentle hints from the United States and European Union that they may consider cutting aid to Egypt to protest the July 3 military coup and deadly crackdowns on protesters. Cutting aid would be meant to punish Egypt’s military rulers, a costly effort to finally rein in the generals who have defied the Western pleas for restraint. By replacing any aid cuts, Saudi Arabia (likely joined by Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates) would undercut the U.S. effort to change the generals’ behavior, which Saudi Arabia has publicly supported.

It’s not just the United States and Saudi Arabia that are at odds over Egypt. As the country descends into chaos, with the military violently suppressing Islamist protests and sectarian tensions rising, many of the region’s biggest players are striving to push Egypt in one direction or another. It’s not an all-out proxy conflict as in Syria, but it’s hard to miss the pattern: regional and global powers, some of them allies, working against one another to empower their favored sides in the Egyptian crisis, hoping to determine the future of one of the Middle East’s most important countries.

The foreign partisans in Egypt’s crisis include the Middle East’s most powerful actors, save perhaps Iran. The military coup government has been supported by most of the Arab monarchies of the Persian Gulf, which tend to fear the Islamist populism of the Muslim Brotherhood. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates all offered $12 billion in aid just after the coup. Saudi King Abdullah last week announced that his country backs Egypt’s crackdown “against terrorism,” a show of support not just for the military government but for its fantastical official narrative that the mostly peaceful Islamist sit-ins were full of dangerous terrorists.

Israel is also lobbying for greater support for the coup government in Egypt, according to a New York Times report that said Israeli officials see the world’s choice as “army or anarchy.”

On the other side, Turkey and Qatar are standing behind the Egyptian Islamists who’ve been protesting on behalf of ousted president Mohamed Morsi. While ever-pragmatic Qatar has been careful to avoid taking sides too strongly since the coup, it was a prominent backer of the Muslim Brotherhood-allied Morsi government — it offered aid, and its Arabic-language al-Jazeera network was widely perceived as pro-Morsi. Turkey, which is helmed by its own democratically elected Islamist government (and has a history of military coups), has condemned Egypt’s military government and called the recent crackdown a “clear massacre.” Islamist movements around the world, including in Afghanistan, are rallying in support of Egypt’s Brotherhood protesters.

There are divisions within some of those countries, as well. Saudi Islamists are expressing public outrage over their government’s approach to Egypt. The squabbling has gotten bad enough that Saudi Prince Walid bin Talal fired a popular TV host over his criticism of the Egyptian military government. Within the United States, Republican Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who have criticized the Egyptian military takeover, have found themselves at odds with American conservatives who see the Brotherhood as a threat. Those internal Saudi and American divisions may not mean much for Egypt right now, but if the domestic in-fighting gets bad enough, it could shape foreign policies.

One of the biggest problems in Egypt right now is that neither side appears to see any room for compromise. Both are taking impossibly maximalist positions: The military wants to eradicate Islamists from public life, though they have millions of supporters, and the Islamists are demanding the reinstatement of Morsi. Neither is likely to happen, and the conflict is probably only going to worsen if both sides believe their best choice is try anyway, no matter the cost.

Outside powers, by offering their respective sides in Egypt such unqualified support, are not just raising the stakes of the conflict. Keep in mind that both the military and Islamists have argued that they represent the “real” Egypt. When foreign powers confirm Egyptians’ biases, telling them they’re right to either protest endlessly or to treat the Brotherhood as “terrorists,” they’re increasing the likelihood that each side will seek a total victory that’s probably not possible. That could mean prolonging the police and sectarian violence that has killed hundreds of Islamists and targeting Christians for reprisal. It could also make it tougher to get anyone near a negotiating table.

Some Gulf states did sign on to a U.S.- and European-led effort to negotiate a peace deal from behind the scenes. But when that deal fell apart, the Gulf states went back to their respective corners of the crisis.

Syria’s conflict didn’t ease up when it turned into a regional proxy conflict. That doesn’t mean that outside powers are going to push Egypt into a Syria-style civil war, of course. But this is one battle that they seem willing to fight to the last Egyptian.

19 August 2013 Last updated at 15:28 GMT

Sinai attacks: Dark omen for Egypt?

By Shashank Joshi Research fellow, Royal United Services Institute

Regional repercussions

Events in Sinai also underscore that the Egyptian crisis is a regional one.

An army check point is north Sinai. Photo: July 2013 Egypt has recently moved two extra battalions into Sinai

Militants in Sinai can threaten Israeli cities with long-range rockets. Only two weeks ago what appears to have been an Israeli drone strike – conducted with Egypt’s permission – killed four people there.

Egypt’s military has also sought and received Israeli permission – required under the terms of its 1979 peace treaty – to move two extra battalions into Sinai as part of a large-scale military operation against militants, another factor contributing to the heightened violence.

This is why Israeli officials have lobbied for the US to resist calls to suspend its substantial aid package to the Egyptian army.

American officials are also worried that the generals might respond to an aid cut-off by suspending security co-operation or even allowing conditions in Sinai to worsen. That, in turn, might inflame Gaza and jeopardise the peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians, recently resumed after considerable American diplomatic effort.

Instability in Sinai has also resulted in repeated attacks on gas pipelines to Jordan, putting pressure on the fragile economy of a key American ally.

Sinai may be a dark omen of things to come in Egypt.

If the government acts on its threat to ban the Brotherhood, then the group’s more radical and violent Islamist counterparts, including those in Sinai, will have a surfeit of recruits.

State repression of the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1950 and 1960s drove it underground and was instrumental in shaping the ideology of the modern, international jihad. The present leader of al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, was a young member of the Brotherhood who moved from Islamism to jihad in that period.

Today, that process would have the added advantages of social media, weak states like Libya on Egypt’s border, and the context of flourishing al-Qaeda affiliates in places like Yemen and Syria.

The army’s eliminationist rhetoric and brutal violence, as well as Brotherhood supporters’ own violence against security forces and minorities, could lead to a repeat of that radicalisation.

If the two sides cannot find a compromise then more of Egypt will begin to resemble Sinai, and the ripples will be felt far beyond Egypt’s borders.

Brotherhood supporters blame the Copts for toppling former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi because Coptic Pope Tawadros II backed the military’s July 3 move to oust him.
Coptic priests and laymen have been killed, churches have been burned or scrawled with anti-Christian graffiti by Islamic militants across Egypt in the past month.
“These guys have been blowing places up and killing people in Sinai. They’ve been attacking churches all over Egypt – putting al-Qaida flags and Morsi’s pictures on churches, so there is no question that the Brotherhood are the new terrorists,” Michael Meunier, president of Egypt’s Al-Haya Party and a Coptic Christian, said regarding the violent Islamist attacks against Christians since Morsi’s fall.
Just last week, a 10-year-old Coptic girl was shot dead by Islamic militants on her way home from Bible school. Muslim extremists tossed firebombs through the windows of four Christian homes and a local church last Sunday to stop a Christian neighbor from building a speed bump in front of her home. The clash left 15 people wounded.

Egypt: Al Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood Mobs Burn Christian Coptic Churches

Global Research, August 19, 2013
IPT News 14 August 2013

Friday was another day of violent street battles in Cairo and other cities around Egypt, as Muslim Brotherhood leaders called for mass marches after the Friday afternoon prayers. Shooting erupted as pro-Muslim Brotherhood marchers descended on Ramses Square in Cairo and other locations around the capital, some armed with guns and other weapons.

Western response to the eruption of violence in Cairo that has been monitored so far, is finding the role of the Muslim brotherhood in perhaps causing the violence difficult to avoid.

Muslim brotherhood supporters inside the demonstrations in Cairo were as responsible for the violence as anyone else, Mohamed Tawfik, the Egyptian ambassador in Washington, told NPR interviewer Robert Seigel on Wednesday. Tawfik reported that the original police plan was to surround the sit-ins and allow people to leave.

Egypt Seizes Weapons Sent From Libya to Muslim Brotherhood

August 19, 2013 • 9:58AM

According to the Libya Herald, the Egyptian Coast Guard intercepted a cargo vessel on Aug. 15 loaded with weapons from Libya. The vessel had set sail from Misrata two days earlier.

The Libyan Coast Guard in Tobruck had attempted to intercept the vessel, but failed to do so when the ship increased its speed.

The Egyptian Coast Guard was then informed and was able to detain the vessel.

According to the maritime tracking website,, Misrata was its last port of call. Its destination was officially Port Said.

The United Nations Panel on Libyan Weapons had reported earlier this year that weapons were being shipped from Libya to Egypt.

New Centcom underground war room in Amman for US intervention in Syria
DEBKAfile Video August 17, 2013, 1:58 PM (IDT)

Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, was in Amman this week to inaugurate the Centcom’s Forward Command in Jordan manned by 273 US officers. US media correspondents were permitted to visit the new war room for the first time on condition of non-disclosure of its location and secret facilities. debkafile’s military sources report that the installation is bomb- and missile-proof against a possible Syrian attack. The US Air Force command section is in direct communication with the US, Israeli, Jordanian and Saudi Air Force headquarters ready for an order by President Barack Obama to impose a partial no-fly zone over Syrian air space.

Another section is designed to coordinate operations between US and Jordanian special forces, as well as the units trained in commando combat by US instructors in Jordan.  A closed section houses CIA personnel who control the work of US agents going in and out of Syria and also a communications center.
In his briefing to US forces Thursday, Aug. 15, Gen. Dempsey commented: “Jordan lives in a very volatile region and at a very critical time in its history. They can count on us to continue to be their partner.”

He suggested that the operation could continue well into next year or beyond.
Situated atop the underground facility is a large surface structure accommodating the American military and civilian offices dealing with Syrian issues from Jordan. It is guarded by US and Jordanian security units.

There are today some 1,000 US military personnel in the Hashemite Kingdom, plus a squadron of F-16 fighters and several Patriot anti-missile batteries strung along the Jordanian-Syrian border to shield Jordanian and American bases and the capital, Amman.
This special debkafile video presentation illustrates US, Saudi, and Jordanian preparations for military intervention in the Syrian civil war and its likely repercussions.

Obama’s final decision on US military intervention – consisting of a no fly and a buffer zone in Syria – is expected in the coming two to three weeks, depending on Dempsey’s recommendations upon his return to Washington after checking out preparations in Israel and Jordan. In neither operation will US boots touch Syrian soil.

The buffer zone in the south up to Damascus would be captured by 3,000 rebels trained in special operations tactics and armed by US forces in Jordan. Jordanian special forces are to spearhead the operation under US command.

Assad may take the fight outside his borders by launching missiles against Israel, Jordan and maybe Turkey.
Hizballah may join in with rocket attacks on Israel. Iran will beef up its active military presence in Syria and Jordan. And Russian Rapid Intervention units are on standby for saving Assad at their Black Sea and South Caucasian bases



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