Archive for the ‘Egypt’ category

A secret Middle East alliance

January 16, 2018

A secret Middle East alliance, Washington Times, Herbert London, January 15, 2018

Illustration on an alliance between Irael and Saudi Arabia by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

A Swiss newspaper, Basler Zeitung, reported recently that a secret alliance between Israel and Saudi Arabia aimed at restraining Iran’s imperial desire for a land mass between Tehran and the Mediterranean was moving into a new phase. While there aren’t formal diplomatic ties between the two countries, military cooperation does exist. In fact, the Saudi government sent a military delegation to Jerusalem several months ago to discuss Iran’s role as a destabilizing force in the region.

Now it appears that officials in Saudi Arabia are considering the purchase of Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system, as well as the Trophy Active Protection System developed by Rafael and Israel Aerospace. Seen against a backdrop in which Riyadh rejects any official normalization with Israel, this development is quite remarkable. It also bespeaks a new-found respect for Israel and an emerging belief that in any Sunni defense condominium Israel will have a role to play.

It is instructive that neither Saudi Arabia nor Egypt was actively hostile to the address change for the American Embassy in Jerusalem. They voted to repudiate the decision in the U.N. vote on the matter, but that was the end of it. The tide of alliance building is moving in a new and unpredictable direction in the Middle East.

The Saudi stance is ostensibly related to a Palestinian-Israeli deal on a two-state solution, but the reality is that Iran is the real threat that poses the greatest danger to Riyadh. An Israel with its advanced technology has become an ally of necessity, not necessarily an ally of long-term common interests, albeit history has a way of uniting unlikely bedfellows.

A recent missile fired from Yemen to Riyadh awakened the Saudi leadership to their vulnerability. Hence, the interest in the Iron Dome. The missile — identified as Houthi fired — had all the markings and signature of an Iranian weapon. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said this was an “Iranian act of war.” Saudi Arabia has resources, but despite the military training of the crown prince, the Saudis are not yet prepared to go to war against Iran. They will build and train and purchase advanced technology, but they will not revert to war, not yet anyway.

This explains why the Iron Dome is so critical as a strategic defense. It is impossible to know if the Houthis will launch again soon. But there is every indication that will be the case. The Houthis are a mere surrogate for the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. They are armed, supported and directed from Iran.

The shakeout in the Middle East will have many turns and missteps. For now, it provides an interesting opportunity for Israel. From a U.N. vote establishing the state in 1948 to the present, Israel has been surrounded by hostile nations. That may change in the years ahead.

Imponderables fill the Middle East air. Will demonstrations against the Iranian government lead to its fall? Will the crown prince’s desire to modernize Saudi Arabia and seize control of military affairs work? Will the Egyptian war in the Sinai against ISIS and al Qaeda forces be successful? Will the United States continue to be an active participant in Middle East affairs? Is Russia prepared to make continued sacrifices to secure Bashar Assad’s position in Syria? These questions and a host of others dot the landscape.

If the Saudi-Israeli alliance yields some form of regional stability, many of the issues described above disappear. That is why the alliance is the harbinger of hope and the insurance policy for the moment.

• Herbert London is president of the London Center for Policy Research.

Palestinians: Arab Rulers are Traitors, Cowards

December 14, 2017

Palestinians: Arab Rulers are Traitors, Cowards, Gatestone InstituteKhaled Abu Toameh, December 14, 2017

Almost every Palestinian protester interviewed in the past few days about the Trump announcement spoke also of the “weakness” and “cowardice” of the Arab and Islamic heads of state.

Welcome to the Palestinian mindset, where an Arab leader who talks about peace with Israel is a traitor, while an Arab leader who talks about destroying Israel or launching rockets at it, like Saddam Hussein, is a “hero.”

Meanwhile, it seems that the Palestinians are disgusted not only with the Arab leaders, but also with their own president, Abbas. A Palestinian public opinion poll published this week showed that 70% of the Palestinians want Abbas to resign. Three months ago, 67% of the Palestinians interviewed for another poll said they wanted Abbas to resign. The latest poll found that Palestinians favor more hardline leaders such as Fatah’s imprisoned leader, Marwan Barghouti, and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh.

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The decision to boycott a visit later this month by US Vice President Mike Pence comes in the context of absorbing the anger of the street. Abbas and his Palestinian Authority have also made it clear that they no longer consider the Trump administration an “honest” and “unbiased” broker in any peace process with Israel. As such, the Palestinian Authority leadership announced that it will reject any peace plan proposed by the Trump administration, even if the plan gains the support of Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

The Palestinian strategy now is to work hard to thwart any peace plan coming from the Trump administration. The Palestinians are convinced that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and other Arab leaders are cooking up a new “conspiracy” behind their backs — with the aim of “liquidating” the Palestinian cause by imposing an acceptable solution on them. This, of course, has nothing to do with Trump’s announcement on Jerusalem. This has been the Palestinian position even before Trump made his announcement, and it is unlikely to change after.

The question now is: How will the Arab regimes respond to this latest charge of fratricide leveled against them by their Palestinian brothers?

Once again, the Palestinians are disappointed with their Arab brothers.

A declaration of war on the US, in the Palestinians’ view, would have been the appropriate response to US President Donald Trump’s December 6 announcement recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

For the Palestinians, the anti-US demonstrations that took place in some Arab countries such as Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, Iraq and Lebanon were a welcome development.

But the protests have evidently failed to satisfy the appetite of the Palestinians, who were banking on the Arab heads of state and governments to take more drastic measures against the US.

The Palestinians are not expecting the Arab and Islamic armies to march on the White House or bomb New York and Los Angeles.

All they have gotten so far from the Arab and Islamic leaders and governments are demonstrations on the streets and statements of condemnations. Moreover, it does not look as if the Palestinians should be expecting more from their Arab and Muslim brothers.

The sense of let-down on the Palestinians’ part is large: the streets of the West Bank and Gaza Strip are rising with chants labeling the Arab and Muslim leaders and regimes as “traitors” and “puppets” in the hands of Israel and the US.

Almost every Palestinian protester interviewed in the past few days about the Trump announcement spoke also of the “weakness” and “cowardice” of the Arab and Islamic heads of state.

Welcome to the Palestinian mindset, where an Arab leader who talks about peace with Israel is a traitor, while an Arab leader who talks about destroying Israel or launching rockets at it, like Saddam Hussein, is a “hero.”

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is rumored to be working with the Trump administration on a new peace plan to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is being dubbed a “traitor” and “collaborator” by many Palestinians. Likewise, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Sisi is being accused by many Palestinians of being too soft on Israel and the US and in collusion with the Trump administration.

Hassan Nasrallah, on the other hand, the secretary-general of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah, who has called for a new intifada against Israel, is being hailed as a “hero.” So are his Iranian masters.

A Bahraini Interfaith group that visited Israel with a message of peace and conciliation was met with Palestinian anger. The Palestinians accused the Bahraini delegation of promoting “normalization with the Zionist entity.”

When Palestinians heard that the members of the Bahraini group might visit the Gaza Strip, they waited for them with eggs and shoes to throw at them at the entrance to the Gaza Strip. The Bahraini delegates later denied that they had planned a visit to the Gaza Strip. However, this did not stop Palestinian protesters from condemning the Bahrainis.

Echoing the embitterment towards the Arab “impotence” and “weak” response to Trump’s announcement, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas said that statements issued by governments and leaders were inadequate in the extreme. In a message to the Arab Parliament, Abbas expressed disappointment that the Arab and Islamic countries did not take tougher measures in response to Trump’s announcement.

For Abbas, the condemnations alone were “meaningless”. At a minimum, he stated, the Palestinians were expecting that Arabs and Muslims would throw the US ambassadors out of their countries, shut down US embassies, cut off their diplomatic relations with the US, or boycott US officials and delegations and goods.

“Rejecting or saying that the [Trump] decision is null and void is insufficient,” Abbas said. “We expect a series of measures and steps that would rise to the level of the event.”

The reaction of the Palestinian street to the Arab and Islamic “apathy” has been even stronger, especially after the meeting of the Arab League foreign ministers in Cairo to discuss the Trump announcement.

“As far as I’m concerned, all the Arabs are not worth two shekels,” commented a Palestinian interviewed in Ramallah.” Another Palestinian remarked: “There are no Arabs or Muslims left.” A third Palestinians said, “I find it strange that there are still some Arabs who expect anything good to come out of the Arab league. When will the Arabs wake up?”

“Anyone who expects the weary Arab regimes to defend Jerusalem is living under an illusion,” said Palestinian political analyst Mohammed Ismail Yassin. “All one should expect from these regimes is more failure. The Arab regimes are busy shedding the blood of their people.”

Meanwhile, it seems that the Palestinians are disgusted not only with the Arab leaders, but also with their own president, Abbas. A Palestinian public opinion poll published this week showed that 70% of the Palestinians want Abbas to resign. Three months ago, 67% of the Palestinians interviewed for another poll said they wanted Abbas to resign. The latest poll found that Palestinians favor more hardline leaders such as Fatah’s imprisoned leader, Marwan Barghouti, and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh.

The Palestinians are fed up with Abbas because, among other things, they believe he is not being tough enough with Israel. Many would like to see Abbas cancel the Oslo Accords with Israel and openly endorse the “armed struggle.” They also want him to halt security coordination with Israel. In an attempt to appease the Palestinian street, Abbas and his top officials have resorted to inflammatory rhetoric against Israel and the Trump administration.

The decision to boycott a visit this month by US Vice President Mike Pence comes in the context of absorbing the anger of the street. Abbas and his Palestinian Authority have also made it clear that they no longer consider the Trump administration an “honest” and “unbiased” broker in any peace process with Israel. As such, the Palestinian Authority leadership announced that it will reject any peace plan proposed by the Trump administration, even if the plan gains the support of Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

Mahmoud Abbas and his Palestinian Authority have made it clear that they will reject any peace plan proposed by the Trump administration. Pictured: Abbas speaks during the U.N. General Assembly on September 20, 2017. (Photo by Kevin Hagen/Getty Images)

The Palestinian strategy now is to work hard to thwart any peace plan coming from the Trump administration. The Palestinians are convinced that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and other Arab leaders are cooking up a new “conspiracy” behind their backs — with the aim of “liquidating” the Palestinian cause by imposing an acceptable solution on them. This, of course, has nothing to do with Trump’s announcement on Jerusalem. This has been the Palestinian position even before Trump made his announcement, and it is unlikely to change after.

The Palestinians have placed themselves on a collision course not only with the US, but also with the Arab world. The question now is: How will the Arab regimes respond to this latest charge of fratricide leveled against them by their Palestinian brothers?

Khaled Abu Toameh, an award-winning journalist, is based in Jerusalem.

Egyptian Islamist Uses New Jersey Base to Stoke Christian Hatred

November 9, 2017

Egyptian Islamist Uses New Jersey Base to Stoke Christian Hatred, Investigative Project on Terrorism,Hany Ghoraba, November 9, 2017

Most jihadists in the world regard Qutb as the ultimate scholar to follow. Qutb’s writings on Islamic Fiqh (jurisprudence) became the handbook of every jihadist from al-Qaida’s Osama bin Laden to ISIS’s Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. Qutb denounced the United States after living there for a few years as a decadent and immoral society. Yet Oraby refers to Qutb as the “martyr” and a great scholar whose teachings supersede any other. She advises her audience to teach their children Qutb’s books and biography.

Known for her abusive and foul language, she gloats over the deaths of Egyptian officers fighting terrorism in Egypt and she celebrates them with her followers. “Forty Egyptian police officer got hammered, may God increase it and bless it,” she wrote.

She also frequently promotes a conspiracy theory about dividing Egypt and creating a Coptic state with al-Sisi’s help. She claims the Egyptian president is an Israeli Mossad agent, and she calls upon every Muslim end to this “Zionist-Nazarene” plan.

As with most Islamists, the national borders of their home countries don’t matter in the grand scheme for establishing a global Islamic state, or caliph. They do not believe in political borders, but in borders based on the faith. Oraby is a staunch advocate for the return of Islamic caliphate and mentions it repeatedly in her articles. She even wrote a poem about it with a map of Iberian Peninsula, showing Islamic Spain factions while lamenting its demise.

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Inciting sectarian strife against Egypt’s Coptic Christians is not a novelty. Islamist propaganda targeting the Coptic Church, businesses and doctrine thrived for decades and often led to violence and prosecution. Earlier this month, a young Islamist killed a Coptic priest in the streets of Cairo.

A new incitement campaign was launched against Copts last year, but what is surprising is that it originates from a cozy home in a peaceful New Jersey suburb.

Ayat Oraby is an Egyptian Muslim immigrant, wife, and mother of two children. Her YouTube channel and blog are dedicated to attacking the Egyptian government and other Arab leaders who do not support Islamists. She uses precious free speech rights that she sought in a country like the USA to spew hatred and violence towards others. Generally, Islamists such as Oraby do not believe in freedom of speech except as a tool in western countries to provoke hatred, propagate Jihadist rhetoric, and fantasize about their Islamist utopia i.e. Sharia ruled caliphate.

“The idea of the Islamic caliphate,” she wrote in a September Facebook post, “is not a political rhetoric but a future that we believe in and a revelation by Allah to his Prophet.”

Before the January 2011 Egyptian revolution that ousted former President Hosni Mubarak, Oraby was unknown in Egypt and the United States. She introduced herself as a purported freedom activist who opposed Mubarak and allegedly carried liberal views. She promoted many Egyptian youth demands for freedom and democracy through her Vlog and other social media outlets.

Oraby kept her support for the Muslim Brotherhood hidden and worked as a news anchor for Egyptian television before 2011. She moved to the United States in 1993 and married Ahmed Ibrahim El-Naggar, an Egyptian-American biochemist who is reportedly affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, according to her brother Abdel-Qader Oraby, who also denounced her actions on an Egyptian TV network in 2014. “I don’t watch her videos and I don’t follow her news because I am very sad from what she says,” he said. “The entire family severed ties with her because of her views.”

She has become one of the most outspoken Brotherhood activists in the United States, with a growing social media following. She also started wearing a hijab to appease Islamists who previously condemned her for posting videos without the Islamic attire.

She incites violence and discrimination against Egypt’s Christians and calls for denying them equal rights to Muslims, including a limit on church construction. She publicly insulted Coptic Pope Tawadoros II by calling him a “puppy” of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

“The problem of the Christians in Egypt is that they follow the church gang,” she wrote. “They believe that (Coptic Pope) Tawadoros the criminal, or any other criminal who will replace him, was selected by the Lord and speaks on His behalf. The church gang deceives its followers in this despicable way, just like a thief or a swindler from the Middle Ages.”

She revels in labeling them as “Nazarenes,” the Quranic term for addressing Christians. It is considered offensive because it refers to an old Christian sect and it is unrelated to modern Christianity. She believes that Christians wield too much power in Egypt. In one of her YouTube videos, she urges her followers to boycott Egyptian Christian businesses and events. She created the “Campaign to Boycott the Nazarenes” with a slogan: “Buy from Houda (A Muslim Nickname) and snub Shenouda (A Coptic Christian name).

“You (Christians) supported the criminals of the Church and their efforts in killing Muslims. You came to revolt against the elected Muslim president (Mohammed Morsi) and you stood in the face of the will of the Muslims,” her introduction to the boycott campaign said.

“O Muslims, boycott them (Copts) and do not buy their products force them to understand the consequences of their actions. To understand that their Cross will not prevail over Egypt and that Islam is above all, whether they like it or not.”

She also frequently promotes a conspiracy theory about dividing Egypt and creating a Coptic state with al-Sisi’s help. She claims the Egyptian president is an Israeli Mossad agent, and she calls upon every Muslim end to this “Zionist-Nazarene” plan. The Coptic Church, she claims, illegally annexed lands next to its monasteries in Western Egypt to build a Coptic compound which will be the cornerstone of a Coptic only city.

“This church constitutes a gang,” she said, “striving to establish a Coptic mini-state. It has shared common interests with the military for a long time.”

Oraby quotes modern Islamic imams to condemn Christians and Jews. For example, she posted a quote on her Facebook page from the popular late Egyptian Sheikh Mohamed Al-Shaarawi: “We have to seek refuge in Allah from appeasing of the Jews and the Christians, and anyone the Jews and the Christians are content with him must know that he betrayed his religion. We need to differentiate between contentment and coexistence (with them).”

She also frequently quotes Islamic scholar Mohammed Al-Ghazali: “The demise of Israel must be preceded by the demise of Arab regimes that have thrived on mocking their people, and the destruction of Arab societies that have adopted illusion and weakness (instead of Islam).”

In Oraby’s eyes, anyone who opposes the Muslim Brotherhood is labeled an apostate or an infidel. She calls the late Egyptian President Gamal Abdel-Nasser a kafir [unbeliever] for executing Sayyid Qutb, the jihadist scholar and Brotherhood ideologue, and for refusing to upheld Sharia laws in Egypt. She also called Nasser’s successor Anwar Sadat a traitor who worked for the CIA and a kafir for signing a peace treaty with Israel.

Most jihadists in the world regard Qutb as the ultimate scholar to follow. Qutb’s writings on Islamic Fiqh (jurisprudence) became the handbook of every jihadist from al-Qaida’s Osama bin Laden to ISIS’s Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. Qutb denounced the United States after living there for a few years as a decadent and immoral society. Yet Oraby refers to Qutb as the “martyr” and a great scholar whose teachings supersede any other. She advises her audience to teach their children Qutb’s books and biography.

Known for her abusive and foul language, she gloats over the deaths of Egyptian officers fighting terrorism in Egypt and she celebrates them with her followers. “Forty Egyptian police officer got hammered, may God increase it and bless it,” she wrote.

Even dead Egyptian actors and artists get smeared, such as beloved Egyptian actor Mamdouh Abdel Aleem. Aleem opposed former Egyptian President and Muslim Brotherhood member Mohamed Morsi. “It is not gloating, but we should all be happy that the “licentious slave” actor is dead,” she wrote in a January 2016 Facebook post.

She also celebrated the death of a former Egyptian television colleague who also had criticized Morsi. “The demise of the mercenary Fatma Al-Najdi who condemned Rabaa protests and saluted the Misraeli Army,” she wrote. “Misr” is Arabic for Egypt. Oraby calls the Egyptian Army “Misraeli” for holding peace with Israel.

In May, she joined a Muslim Brotherhood delegation that visited the U.S. Congress to lobby against designating the Brotherhood as a terrorist organization. The delegation included members of Egyptian Americans for Freedom and Justice (EAFJ), which has sponsored events featuring calls for Egyptian leader Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s beheading by Egyptian mujahideen.

The delegation included senior officials from New Jersey’s Islamic Center of Passaic County. Center Imam Mohammed Qatanani remains subject to deportation proceedings due to his connections to Hamas.

Oraby joined other U.S. based Islamists in mourning former Muslim Brotherhood General Guide Mahdi Akef’s death last month.

“To hell with Egypt, its flag, its army and their institutions, to hell with Egypt a million times,” she wrote in a Twitter post.

As with most Islamists, the national borders of their home countries don’t matter in the grand scheme for establishing a global Islamic state, or caliph. They do not believe in political borders, but in borders based on the faith. Oraby is a staunch advocate for the return of Islamic caliphate and mentions it repeatedly in her articles. She even wrote a poem about it with a map of Iberian Peninsula, showing Islamic Spain factions while lamenting its demise.

Ayat Oraby’s radical rants and conspiracy theories are nothing new, but her style and reach attract many young Islamist followers. With more than 600,000 Facebook followers, she should not be taken lightly by any security apparatus.

Hany Ghoraba is an Egyptian writer, political and counter-terrorism analyst at Al Ahram Weekly, author of Egypt’s Arab Spring: The Long and Winding Road to Democracy and a regular contributor to the BBC.

The Iran-Hamas Plan to Destroy Israel

October 23, 2017

The Iran-Hamas Plan to Destroy Israel, Gatestone InstituteKhaled Abu Toameh, October 23, 2017

Abbas and the Egyptians were probably naïve to think that Hamas would disarm and allow Abbas loyalists to deploy in the Gaza Strip after the signing of the “reconciliation” agreement. It is possible that some of the Hamas leaders had lied to Abbas and the Egyptians by hinting that Hamas would give up security control of the Gaza Strip.

The Egyptians, who played a major role in brokering the Hamas-Fatah deal, are also believed to be worried about Iran’s renewed meddling in the internal affairs of the Palestinians. Both the Palestinian Authority and Egypt see the visit of the Hamas delegation to Iran as a serious setback to the “reconciliation” agreement and as a sign that Hamas is not sincere about implementing the accord.

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Iran’s goal in this move? For Hamas to maintain and enhance its preparation for war against Israel.

Iran’s message to Hamas: If you want us to continue providing you with financial and military aid, you must continue to hold on to your weapons and reject demands to disarm.

Iran wants Hamas to retain its security control over the Gaza Strip so that the Iranians can hold onto another power base in the Middle East, as it does with Hezbollah in Lebanon.

In a historic reawakening, Iran is once again meddling in the internal affairs of the Palestinians. This does not bode well for the future of “reconciliation” between Hamas and Palestinian Authority’s Fatah faction run by President Mahmoud Abbas.The re-emergence of Iran, as it pursues its efforts to increase its political and military presence in the region, does not bode well for the future of stability in the Middle East.

The Iranians are urging Hamas to hold on to its weapons in spite of the recent “reconciliation” agreement signed between Hamas and Fatah under the auspices of Egypt. Iran’s goal in this move? For Hamas to maintain and enhance its preparation for war against Israel.

A high-level Hamas delegation headed by Saleh Arouri, deputy chairman of Hamas’s “political bureau,” traveled to Tehran last week to brief Iranian leaders on the “reconciliation” deal with Fatah. During the visit, Iranian leaders praised Hamas for resisting demands (by Fatah) to disarm and relinquish security control over the Gaza Strip.

“We congratulate you on your refusal to abandon your weapons, an issue that you consider as a red line,” Ali Velayati, a senior Iranian politician and advisor to Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Khamenei, told the visiting Hamas officials. “The Palestinian cause is the most important cause of the Islamic world, and after all this time you remain committed to the principle of resistance against the Zionists despite all the pressure you are facing.”

During the visit of a high-level Hamas delegation to Iran last week, Ali Velayati (pictured above in 2016), a senior Iranian politician and advisor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, told the visiting Hamas officials: “We congratulate you on your refusal to abandon your weapons…” (Image source: Hamed Malekpour/Wikimdia Commons)

Arouri and his colleagues rushed to Tehran to seek the support of the Iranian regime in the wake of demands by Abbas that Hamas allow the Palestinian Authority to assume security control over the Gaza Strip. The “reconciliation” agreement stipulates nothing about the need for Hamas to disarm, and Hamas officials have stressed during the past two weeks that they have no intention of laying down their weapons or dismantling their security apparatus in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas views the demand to disarm as part of an Israeli-American “conspiracy” designed to eliminate the Palestinian “resistance” and thwart the “reconciliation” accord with Abbas’s Fatah. Hamas’s refusal to disarm is already threatening to spoil the “reconciliation.”

Arouri was quoted during his visit to Tehran as saying that Hamas “will not backtrack on the option of defending the Palestinian people.” He specified that the “reconciliation” agreement with Fatah would not affect the weapons of the Palestinian “resistance,” including Hamas. Hamas, he added, will “confront the Israeli-American conspiracy through national unity and reconciliation and by continuing the resistance. The Palestinian resistance forces will always stick to their weapons and will not lay them down.”

Hamas also sees the visit of its top officials to Tehran as a rejection of Israel’s demand that it cut off its ties with Iran. Hamas officials say they continue to see their relations with Iran as “strategic and significant,” especially in wake of Tehran’s financial and military aid to their movement in the Gaza Strip.

By aligning itself with Iran, Hamas is also seeking to resist any demand that it abandon its ideology and charter, which call for the destruction of Israel and oppose any peace process between Israelis and Palestinians.

Iranian officials apparently do not like Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority and are not keen on seeing them return to the Gaza Strip. Iran considers Abbas a “traitor” because his Palestinian Authority conducts security coordination with Israel in the West Bank and claims that it is committed to a “peace process” with Israel. This position goes against Iran’s wish to destroy the “Zionist entity.”

Abbas, for his part, has always considered Iran a threat to his regime as well as to stability in the region. In the past, he has criticized Iran for “meddling” in the internal affairs of the Palestinians by supporting Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip.

Earlier this year, the Palestinian Authority strongly condemned Iran after a senior Iranian official accused Abbas of waging war in the Gaza Strip on behalf of Israel. The official’s statement came in response to a series of punitive measures imposed by Abbas on the Gaza Strip.

Abbas’s spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudaineh, accused Iran of meddling in the internal affairs of the Palestinians and some Arab countries. He said that Iran’s actions “encouraged divisions” among the Palestinians. “Iran must stop feeding civil wars in the Arab world,” he said. “Iran must stop using rhetoric that only serves Israel and the enemies of the Arabs.”

Abbas and the Palestinian Authority are now convinced that Iran is working towards foiling the “reconciliation” agreement with Hamas. They believe that Iran invited the Hamas leaders to Tehran to pressure them not to lay down its weapons.

Abbas and the Egyptians were probably naïve to think that Hamas would disarm and allow Abbas loyalists to deploy in the Gaza Strip after the signing of the “reconciliation” agreement. It is possible that some of the Hamas leaders had lied to Abbas and the Egyptians by hinting that Hamas would give up security control of the Gaza Strip.

The Egyptians, who played a major role in brokering the Hamas-Fatah deal, are also believed to be worried about Iran’s renewed meddling in the internal affairs of the Palestinians. Both the Palestinian Authority and Egypt see the visit of the Hamas delegation to Iran as a serious setback to the “reconciliation” agreement and as a sign that Hamas is not sincere about implementing the accord.

Some Palestinian Authority and Hamas officials have recently claimed that Israel was not happy with their “reconciliation” agreement and was doing its utmost to foil it. The truth, however, is that it is Iran and Hamas that are working to thwart the agreement by insisting on maintaining the status quo in the Gaza Strip. Iran’s message to Hamas: If you want us to continue providing you with financial and military aid, you must continue to hold on to your weapons and reject demands to disarm.

What is in it for Iran? Iran wants Hamas to retain its security control over the Gaza Strip so that the Iranians can hold onto another power base in the Middle East.

Iran wants Hamas to continue playing the role of a proxy, precisely as Hezbollah functions in Lebanon.

The last thing Iran wants is for the Palestinian Authority security forces to return to the Gaza Strip: that would spoil Tehran’s plans to advance its goal of destroying Israel.

Iran’s continued support for Hamas stems not out of love for either Hamas or the Palestinians, but from its own interest in consolidating its presence in the Middle East.

Many Palestinians see the “successful” visit of the Hamas officials to Tehran as a major setback for efforts to end the 10-year-long Hamas-Fatah dispute. Similarly, the Egyptians are now wary of the sudden rapprochement between Iran and Hamas and are beginning to ask themselves whether they have been duped by Hamas. An Israeli delegation that visited Cairo on the eve of the signing of the Hamas-Fatah deal is said to have warned the Egyptians that the “reconciliation” would not work unless Hamas disarms and severs its ties with Iran. However, the Egyptians reportedly failed to listen to the Israeli warning.

As for Israel, the US and other Western parties, the lesson to be drawn from the renewal of ties between Hamas and Iran is that Hamas has not changed one iota.

Contrary to delusional hopes, discussed on the heels of the “reconciliation” agreement in Cairo and based on lies and thin air, Hamas is not headed toward moderation and pragmatism. By openly supporting Hamas, Iran is once again demonstrating that it aims to fan the fire in the Middle East and continue to sabotage any prospects for peace.

Khaled Abu Toameh, an award-winning journalist, is based in Jerusalem.

MB Groups Increasingly Open in Endorsing Anti-Sisi Violence

August 16, 2017

MB Groups Increasingly Open in Endorsing Anti-Sisi Violence, Investigative Project on Terrorism, John Rossomando, August 16, 2017

 

A group of exiled Morsi-era Muslim Brotherhood politicians based in Istanbul has posted on Facebook a blueprint for overthrowing Egypt’s military regime. The Egyptian Revolutionary Council (ERC) reposted several videos on July 31 that it had released on Facebook over the past month offering strategies for violently toppling the government of Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi.

Sisi rose to power in 2013, after the military ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood-dominated government.

Until now the ERC, which met with Obama administration officials and liberal think tanks in 2015, has largely been involved in lobbying against Sisi’s government. An Arabic hashtag saying, “Preparing for the Revolution#,” appeared on the ERC’s Facebook page. The attached videos contain PowerPoint-type presentations with recommendations for Muslim Brotherhood revolutionaries in Egypt.

A July 1 ERC video asks, “How do we prepare for the revolution?” Egypt’s military holds all of the tools of power, so the video calls for Brotherhood supporters to block military movement to hinder it from suppressing any revolt.

“What do we do with the Army?? Like the Turks did,” the video says. “Determine the sites of all military units and the roads they use, and the locations of gates to hinder and cripple their movement when they think they are going out to confront the revolution.

“Like the Turks did using huge vehicles and deflating their tires to block the roads. We can use heavy oil on the roads to prevent the passage of [armored personnel] carriers like they did in Venezuela.”

Another video recommends targeting regime military airfields, ground defense units, pilot barracks, spare part warehouses, radar sites, and air defense installations. It emphasizes getting soldiers who either secretly belong to the Muslim Brotherhood or are sympathetic to the group to collect intelligence on pilots and navigators to keep them away from their aircraft. It also suggests gaining intelligence on the types of aircraft used by the Egyptian military and getting information about their takeoff schedules.

“The airfields must cease operating in the time of the revolution,” a slide says. “Blockading the pilots and preventing them form reaching the airfields is half the victory in the battle.”

The ERC enjoys little influence or name recognition within Egypt, but its turn toward endorsing violence puts egg on the faces of the Obama administration officials and the liberal intellectuals who embraced them, Hudson Institute Senior Fellow Samuel Tadros told the Investigative Project on Terrorism.

“Even the fronts created to talk to the West are now using the language of violence,” Tadros said. “The mask has fallen; there’s no need to pretend any longer.”

ERC members used talking points about democracy and the rule of law while speaking in English during their 2015 visit, Tadros said, but those points were noticeably absent when they spoke in Arabic.

Other exiled Muslim Brotherhood leaders also have called for violence recently on social media.

Senior Muslim Brotherhood leader Ashraf Abdelghaffar called on Brotherhood members to return to the jihadist traditions of the movement’s founder, Hasan al-Banna. A “Mujahid Brother” – a Muslim Brotherhood member who wages violent jihad – held the highest place of honor in the movement, Abdelghaffar argued in an Aug. 5 Facebook post.

“The only weakness that shall humiliate us is the love of this world and hating death,” Abdelghaffar wrote. “Therefore we have prepared your souls for great action. Strive for death – and life will be given to you. Know that there is no escaping death, and it will happen only once, and if you carry it out for the sake of God, there will be profit in this world and reward in the Afterlife, and nothing will harm you except what Allah has decreed. Work for an honorable death, you will be thus granted full happiness. May God provide us and you, the honor of achieving the martyrdom.”

This thinking, he wrote, reflected Al-Banna’s instructions.

“Imam Al-Banna talks about elevating the word of Allah and liberating the homelands,” Abdelghaffar wrote. “The summit of Islam is Jihad in the Way of Allah.”

Muslim Brotherhood-linked terrorist groups, such as the Revolutionary Punishment Movement (RPM), Popular Resistance Movement (PRM) and the Hassm Movement, have carried out attacks across Egypt since 2014 – sometimes in conjunction with ISIS Sinai Province. RPM and PRM were founded by Mohamed Kamal, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Guidance Bureau who was killed last October in a gun battle with Egyptian police.

Kamal’s faction of the Muslim Brotherhood executive committee, also known as the “new guard,” decided to back away from the group’s prior public policy of endorsing peaceful resistance to the Sisi regime, George Washington University Muslim Brotherhood expert Mokhtar Awad noted in a July 26 Hudson Institute article.

The Brotherhood’s Shariah Committee published a book on a file sharing website in January 2015, The Jurisprudence of the Popular Resistance to the Coup, that offered a religious justification for a campaign of violence against the Sisi regime. The book acknowledged that the Muslim Brotherhood’s touted public support for non-violence was tactical rather than a matter of principle, Awad said, citing this passage:

“Peacefulness is not a fundamental of Islam or the group [Muslim Brotherhood], and special operations work does not mean total confrontation,” the book’s authors wrote. “‘May God grant us and you the honor of martyrdom’ … the Jihadi tendency settled as a doctrine in the foundation of Imam al-Banna’s methodology and the acculturation of the Muslim Brotherhood. Until it became a slogan they repeat day and night and on every occasion: ‘God is our objective, the Prophet is our leader, the Quran is our constitution, Jihad is our way, and dying in the way of God is our greatest hope.”

The Jurisprudence of the Popular Resistance to the Coup appeared around the same time as the Brotherhood’s official Arabic website, Ikhwanonline, posted a communiqué calling for “a long, unrelenting jihad.”

Peacefulness isn’t a fundamental tenet of Islam or the Brotherhood and that things can change. Magdy Shalash, one of Kamal’s top Muslim Brotherhood deputies, told the Turkish-based pro-Brotherhood channel Mekameleen TV. The Brotherhood leadership’s espousal of a non-violent slogan after the military toppled President Morsi did not apply to self-defense, he said.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s old guard, headed by Acting Supreme Guide Mahmoud Ezzat, still talks about peace, but the proliferation of violence and violent rhetoric shows it is losing control of the movement.

Egypt goes about the task of reforming the religious rhetoric

July 29, 2017

Egypt goes about the task of reforming the religious rhetoric, Al ArabiyaMashari Althaydi, July 29, 2017

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi finally announced the establishment of the Egyptian supreme or national council for combating terrorism and extremism. 

This is an enlightening path and a blessed move. There is unquestionable determination to work and exterminate extremism that produces awful violence that targets markets, streets, schools, mosques, churches and airports. Terrorists are monsters who operate like zombies that rose from their dark graves.

The council is chaired by the president himself. Among the members are the parliament speaker, Al-Azhar Sheikh, the Coptic pope and state officials such as the education, awqaf, interior and intelligence ministers. The aim of the council is to set plans, execute them and supervise them.

All this is good and it’s rather a duty and a requirement. This is the work of the state and the society. We wish Egypt luck and success and we hope Muslims and the entire world succeed in winning over Islamized terrorism and the culture behind it.

Task before Al-Azhar

Previously, Sisi had informed Al-Azhar officials that religious reform is a must and said he will quarrel with them before God if they don’t achieve the task.

The determination and honesty of the responsible Muslim man, Sisi, are beyond doubt. However, the task of religious reform is not a military one which he can simply approve and it gets done. We wish it were so, as that would have been much easier.

The issue is also not just about Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Pakistan, Indonesia or Senegal. It is about defeating the culture of terrorism and extremism – and I emphasize extremism here. It is a global task that concerns all people considering the news about terrorism coming daily from across the world.

There are many Arabic, Islamic and even European initiatives and centers that work to confront Islamized terrorist cultures, whether Sunni or Shiite, on the ideological and media levels. It’s worth noting that Sunni ones are more than Shiites. The diversity of such work is of course good and beneficial.

My only note is that we focus on media and quantitative activity at the expense of qualitative and intellectual activity when the problem’s core is educational and not relevant to media activity.

I’ll be more frank and ask: Is there a serious and specialized discussion before politicians and media figures talk about concepts such as Sharia, governance, Caliphate, secularism, international law and its moral obligations, women’s rights etc.?

This is where we must begin, as late author Khalid Mohammed Khalid put it.

Palestinians, Mother of Terrorist, Celebrate Slaughter of Jewish Family

July 24, 2017

Palestinians, Mother of Terrorist, Celebrate Slaughter of Jewish Family, Front Page MagazineJoseph Klein, July 24, 2017

(Another good opportunity for an American veto at the UN Security Council. — DM)

The United Nations Security Council is meeting in closed session Monday morning to discuss the crisis. Sweden, Egypt and France requested the special meeting. None of these countries have supported Israel in dealing with the ever present threat of Palestinian terrorism. They have bought into the Palestinians’ victimhood narrative.

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Palestinian mother extolled her 19-year old son’s “accomplishment” in the name of Allah. She exclaimed:  “Praise Allah. I am proud of my son. May Allah be pleased with him.” The mother was not celebrating her son’s graduation, new job, marriage, fatherhood or some other life-affirming event. Rather, she was celebrating the deaths that her terrorist offspring, Omar al-Abed, brought to a Jewish family on July 21st.  The family was about to sit down for a Sabbath dinner and to celebrate the birth of a grandson that same day when the Palestinian terrorist prodigy invaded the family’s home. Wielding a knife, he proceeded to kill a grandfather, his daughter and his son, and to seriously wound the grandmother. The massacre ended only after a neighbor, who belongs to an elite IDF unit and was home on leave, heard cries for help from the house and shot the terrorist. Al-Abed was eventually handcuffed and taken to a hospital for treatment of his wounds.  

The terrorist’s mother was joined in her celebration by Palestinians dancing in the street in Gaza. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh reportedly phoned Omar al-Abed’s father to congratulate him for what his son had done to bring “pride to the nation.” 

The trigger for this latest spurt of violence was said to be Israel’s decision to install metal detectors at the entrances leading to the Temple Mount. Israel took this action in response to the killings by terrorists on July 14th of two Israeli police officers guarding the holy site. The murders were carried out by Arab Israeli citizens who used guns previously smuggled into the compound. Israel installed metal detectors to prevent any further smuggling of arms.

Palestinian violence has been spreading since then, resulting in the deaths of four Palestinian rioters in confrontations with Israeli security forces trying to restore calm.

The spiraling violence is being spurred on by Muslim religious leaders and Palestinian officials claiming that Israel’s security actions were defiling the Al Aqsa mosque situated on the Temple Mount. Omar al-Abed picked up on this theme in the “will” he posted on Facebook three hours before his cowardly attack. He said he was acting against “the sons of apes and pigs who defile Al Aqsa.” Hoping for martyrdom, he posted: “I will go to heaven. How sweet death is for the sake of God, his prophet and for Al-Aqsa mosque.” The 19-year old terrorist, who is the apple of his mother’s eye, did not get his wish and will now have to answer for his crimes. No doubt, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will reward the terrorist’s family with a generous stipend while he remains in Israeli custody. That’s the way Abbas operates.

After first mouthing an insincere condemnation of the murderous attack on the police guarding the Temple Mount, Abbas has exploited the situation ever since. He announced that he was going to suspend all contacts with Israel until the metal detectors were removed. Abbas reached out to the United States and the so-called “international community” to pressure Israel into cancelling its heightened security measures. He reportedly said that unless Israel backed down, tensions over access to the holy site could spiral out of control. The United Nations Security Council is meeting in closed session Monday morning to discuss the crisis. Sweden, Egypt and France requested the special meeting. None of these countries have supported Israel in dealing with the ever present threat of Palestinian terrorism. They have bought into the Palestinians’ victimhood narrative.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s government has been holding firm so far on its latest security measures. Tzachi Hanegbi, the minister for regional development and a senior member of the ruling Likud party, told Army Radio: “They (metal detectors) will remain. The murderers will never tell us how to search the murderers. If they (Palestinians) do not want to enter the mosque, then let them not enter the mosque.”

However, there is some division within the Israeli government on the utility of the metal detectors. Senior security officials have reportedly warned that the potential danger the metal detectors may pose in being used as a pretext for widespread violence may outweigh their usefulness. Thus, the government could be preparing a way to replace the metal detectors with a less controversial alternative. Israel has begun installing sophisticated security cameras at one of the entrances. While security officials have told Israeli media that the cameras are meant to complement the metal detectors, not replace them, the cameras may provide the Israeli government with a face saving way to defuse the immediate crisis. Prime Minister Netanyahu hinted as much when he said at his weekly cabinet meeting, “The only thing we want is to ensure no one can again take weapons in and carry out another attack. We’re willing to examine alternatives to the metal detectors, so long as the alternative ensures the prevention of the next attack.”

However, it is unlikely that any alternative security measure the Israelis institute will quell the rising level of violence. Indeed, it could have the opposite effect. Already, Abbas is said to be protesting the installation of the cameras. Only the Palestinians have the right to determine what security measures are appropriate outside the entrance to the site of their mosque, he said on Sunday. Moreover, some Muslim religious leaders may argue that photographing of people and other living animate moving beings is forbidden in Islam. They would likely rail against the “Zionist infidel occupiers” taking pictures of Muslim worshippers entering the “sacred” site of a mosque over which the Palestinians claim exclusive sovereignty.

The Palestinian grand mufti, the acting Palestinian chief justice and the Jordanian-sponsored Waqf religious trust issued a no-compromise joint statement:

“We stress our absolute rejection of the electronic gates, and of all measures by the Occupation (Israel) that would change the historical and religious status in Jerusalem and its sacred sites, foremost the blessed Aqsa mosque.” (Emphasis added)

Palestinians continue to reject all paths to a reasonable compromise on any issue related to the conflict that they created in the first place by not accepting a two-state solution seven decades ago. There is no reason to expect any different outcome this time. As Debkafile put it so well: “The Palestinians are consistent in their tactics: First shed Israeli blood, then tell the world they are victims and as martyrs are justified in seeking revenge.” As usual, much of the “international community,” as represented in the UN, will fall for this charade.