Monday, February 21, 2011

From The Region: Egypt gets its Khomeini

Barry Rubin writes in the Jerusalem Post, "Friday, February 18 may be a turning point in Egyptian history. On that day Yusuf al-Qaradawi spoke to a giant cheering crowd in Tahrir Square."

Al-Qaradawi, 84-years old, had been in self-imposed exile in Qatar for 50 years but his return to Egypt may mean that Egypt's Khomeini has entered the scene.

And The New York Times reports,

"Sheik Qaradawi, a popular television cleric whose program reaches an audience of tens of millions worldwide, addressed a rapt audience of more than a million Egyptians gathered in Tahrir Square to celebrate the uprising and honor those who died.

“Don’t fight history,” he urged his listeners in Egypt and across the Arab world, where his remarks were televised. “You can’t delay the day when it starts. The Arab world has changed.”

Rubin points out,

"IT WAS 32 years ago almost to the day when Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returned in triumph to Tehran to take over the leadership of that country. Qaradawi has a tougher job, but he’s up to the challenge if his health holds up. Up until now, the Egyptian revolution generally, and the Brotherhood in particular, has lacked a charismatic thinker, someone who could really mobilize the masses. Qaradawi is that man. Long resident in the Gulf, he is returning to his homeland in triumph."

Qaradawi has called attacks against Israelis and American soldiers legitimate resistance. And he is considered a terrorist by the US for his support of terror oganizations.

Giving Qaradawi access to Egyptians in the street is asking for trouble. So, in my opinion, the slide to another Islamist government in the Middle East begins.

Read Rubin's report: The Region: Egypt gets its Khomeini and The New York Times, After Long Exile, Sunni Cleric Takes Role in Egypt.

Monday, February 14, 2011

From - Analysis: PA cabinet changes show Abbas is freaking out

The "freaking out" reference is from the article headline; I didn't make it up.

In any event, could the chickens be coming home to roost for Mr. Abbas, aka Abu Mazen, after all these years? Abbas, I was personally told by the late Yitzhak Rabin, was a terrorist, and he, therefore, most likely has the penchant as his comrade in arms Arafat had for pocketing cash intended for Palestinians on the street, and working to keep power rather than democratically share it.

The uproar in Tunisia and Egypt may hit the streets of Ramallah, then what? An Islamist government takeover (read here Hamas) or will the moderates in Palestinian society gain a voice they have been forced to suppress for so many years?

Read the full article - Analysis: PA cabinet changes show Abbas is freaking out

Is Iran afraid of Egyptian uprising? Hanging dissidents is proof

From Frida Ghitis writing in the Miami Herald, Iran sees threat, promise, in Egyptian uprising

"When Arab leaders looked at the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, they saw the flames of revolution lapping at their own heels. To protect themselves, they rushed to make preemptive concessions, handing out cash, rolling back subsidy cuts, and promising new elections. Iranian leaders, on the other hand, chose to respond in precisely the opposite way. Instead of granting the people what they might demand, the government chose to protect itself by killing even more of its opponents, according to figures from human-rights organizations."
That's the Iranian approach- encourage change abroad but kill your opponents at home. The unasked question, for now, is what message President Obama will send to Iranians who are fighting, and dying, for change in their government.

Read more.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Whither Egypt - the Economist Debates

The Economist poses the following debate position:
This house believes that Egypt will become a democracy within a year

Defending the motion is Anoush Ehteshami, Professor, Durham University and Joint Director, Centre for the Advanced Study of the Arab World.

Against the motion is Daniel Pipes, Director, Middle East Forum and Taube distinguished visiting fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford.

I think Pipes is correct. Read the entire column, Economist Debates: Egypt: Statements

What do you think?

Friday, February 4, 2011