Welcome to the Middle East Today

The Middle East has traditionally been important for the world economy. The Middle East situation today has an impact on all aspects of life in America and much of the world.

Only by understanding the motivations of the various factions in the Middle East can we hope to understand how to promote peace and national security for Middle Eastern nations, Europe, and the United States.

Aug 29, 2011

US Government Bribe to Ayatollah Sistani

Donald Rumsfeld’s recently published memoir reflects his role in the Iraq war when he was Secretary of Defense during President George W. Bush’s administration. The book reveals some interesting and secretive information that took place when he was in the Pentagon.

Mr. Rumsfeld stated that the U.S. government paid the leading religious Shiaa imam, Ali al-Sistani, $200 million to issue fatwas in support of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. According to Mr. Rumsfeld, the religious fatwas helped the fall of Iraq and solidified the occupation of Iraq by allied forces. Mr. Rumsfeld also pointed out that he established a personal relationship with the Ayatallah Sistani in 1987, before the Gulf War invasion. After Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, that relationship, according to Rumsfeld, was established through Jawad al-Mahri, Mr. Sistani’s secretary in Kuwait. It was through him that the $200 million was sent to Ayatallah Ali Sistani. Mr. Rumsfeld and President Bush were aware of the strong relationship between those who took the money and Iran. When the gift was acknowledged by Sistani, President Bush established a new desk at the CIA, which was refereed to as the link to Mr. Sistani, headed by retired admiral Symon Polandi.

The emphasis of such a relationship is to encourage Sistani to inform his Shiaa followers not to target American soldiers.

According to Mr. Rumsfeld, Admiral Polandi was connected directly with Imam Sistani’s elder son Mohammad Ridda in one of the palaces of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad. Sometimes the admiral also met the secretary in Najaf with Imam Sistani.

According to Rumsfeld, Saddam Hussein left more than 6 million weapons in the hands of Iraqis who posed a threat to the safety of the allied forces in Iraq. As a result, Imam Sistani issued a fatwa prohibiting the use of these arms against the allied forces.

Mr. Rumsfeld’s book is 800 pages long, and the BBC, New York Times and Washington Post revealed some of the information in it. Nevertheless, Mr. Rumsfeld remained defiant in his justification of the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Furthermore, Rumsfeld noted that he met with President Bush 15 days after 9/11 in which he was told to plan for the invasion of Iraq. As the BBC’s Steve Kingstone says, the memoir reinforces the view that President Bush was already looking ahead to Iraq, even as his administration planned the war against al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. (www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada.print-true, 8/4/2011).

It is unfortunate to read about high-ranking religious individuals who abuse their religious role under the banner of religion. If Ayatallah Sistani did what has been revealed, it is an act of treason against his country that has led to the deaths of more than one million Iraqis and he should be prosecuted for it.

I wonder how many fatwas Imam Sistani issued for the $200 million he received. It will be of interest for the readers to find out how many dollars each fatwa ended up costing the politically uninformed Americans.

Aug 25, 2011

Conflicting Reports on the Libyan Uprising

During the past few days (8/20/11-8/23/11) conflicting reports were aired by the international press about the Libyan rebels’ success against the Gadhafi forces.

First, the Libyan and international press revealed that Gadhafi’s two sons were arrested. Mohamed surrendered freely to the rebel forces in Tripoli and his brother Saif il-Islam was captured. The head of the Libyan Transitional Council issued an order to the rebel leader in Tripoli to secure and protect both prisoners until they are tried by Libyan courts.

Second, Mr. Morino OKampo, the prosecutor of the international court, issued an order to transfer Saif il-Islam to Geneva to be tried for crimes committed against the Libyan people.

Third, it was declared by the Libyan Transitional Council that Tripoli has been secured by the rebel forces except for a few pockets that are still under the control of Gadhafi forces. The puzzling situation is that two days later and after such official statements, the international press reported that Saif il-Islam was free and met with foreign journalists in a hotel in Tripoli. Another report also revealed that the second son of Gadhafi was also free and not under arrest.

Furthermore, Saif il-Islam stated publicly in front of journalists that the Gadhafi forces will continue to fight the rebels.

The irony of all this is that either Gadhafi’s sons were not arrested or they escaped with the help of their supporters after their arrests. The truth of this situation will be revealed sooner or later.

After the rebels entered Tripoli, the foreign popular international news organizations began to report the European governments’’ concern about what comes next in Libya, after the removal of Gadhafi and his supporters from power.

The French president Mr. Sarkozy called for an international meeting to discuss the future Libyan situation. He extended an invitations to the president of the Libyan Transitional Council to attend that meeting.

The irony is that the European powers are rushing to see who will end up with the lion’s share of Libyan oil. France, Italy, Germany, Austria and the U.S. oil companies are already plotting their own individual strategy to see who will be the winner of the Libyan oil wealth.

No one can deny that the NATO forces played an active role in the downfall of Mr. Gadhafi’s regime. However, the war, which has been going on for more than six months, caused significant physical destruction in Libya in addition to the tens of thousands of human casualties.

Libya needs more time to get its house in order to prepare for a smooth and democratic election, which it has never experienced before.

Western European governments, as well as the U.S., have failed to understand during the past eight to nine decades or since the discovery of oil in the Middle East, that oil is the only economic commodity that they have. Oil is their major source of income and they need to sell it in order to be able to run and develop their own economics. To put it even more clearly, the oil producing countries can’t drink their own oil; they have to sell it.

The irony of western capitalism is who is going to control the oil as an economic commodity to maximize the margins of their profits. They are fully aware that oil-producing countries have no other choice but to sell that product. Even when people/consumers complain about the increasing prices of oil, they quite frequently blame the oil producing countries for it. The vast majority of oil consumers are not aware of the fact that the corrupt and greedy Wall Street gamblers are the major instrumental factors in influencing oil prices worldwide. Let me conclude by stating that the Libyan people need time to get their house in order, before starting to assess their oil strategy. They need to sell their oil and it is the only economic commodity that they can depend on to provide the funds needed for the economic development of their country.

Aug 23, 2011

Perennial Blunders of the American Foreign Policy

Recently, an American congressional group went to Israel on a junket sponsored by the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) to investigate the recent turn of events in the Middle East. It is a well-known fact that AIPAC is the most influential lobby in Washington D.C. It also plays an important role in shaping American foreign policy in the Middle East in favor of Israel. The congressional group who visited Israel was led by Eric Cantor, the leader of the Republican party in the House, who is well known as an outspoken Jewish Zionist and extreme supporter of the state of Israel.

It was reported in the Jerusalem Post newspaper that Mr. Cantor was very concerned about the recent changes that took place in Egypt, which led to the removal of Hosni Mubarak’s regime. He further pointed out that he is concerned about the possibility of the Muslim Brotherhood winning a majority in the upcoming election (November 2011). Such a possibility will threaten the American Israeli interests in the Middle East region.

Such a public statement by an American political leader during a trip to Israel is a foolish act that is in violation of international law, which prevents foreign interference in any state’s internal affairs. Furthermore, such acts are also in violation of the basic principles of democracy, which the U.S. keeps talking about.

Nevertheless, the U.S. government only pays lip service to the implementation of democracy abroad, especially when it contradicts its basic interests. It is also a well-known fact that the U.S. government helped to remove freely and democratically elected regimes in the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Latin America. The U.S. government has been consistent in removing regimes that create problems for their national interest, irrespective of how that interested is defined.

The recent spring uprising in the Arab world caught the American government by surprise, despite the fact that they were fully aware of the political corruption, lack of democracy and accountability, poverty and high unemployment rates, especially among the young generation.

Despite all of its ill foreign policy, especially in the Arab world, over the past 50-60 years, the U.S. failed to learn a lesson that might give them more credibility in the future. For example, the U.S. government’s high officials, such as the secretary of state and others, have been in contact with high officials from the Muslim Brotherhood, to see where they stand in terms of their views on the U.S.

The Muslim Brotherhood is the largest organized political group in Egypt. Many political analysts in Egypt have predicted that they might get at least 30-40% of the seats in the upcoming parliament election (November 2011). Again, such an approach by U.S. government officials is in violation of Egyptian law and is considered interference in Egypt’s political affairs.

Also, the U.S. recently committed a blunder, by giving nearly $64 million to various organizations in Egypt without consulting with the Egyptian government. However the Egyptian government was outraged at the financial support given to various organizations under the rationale of supporting democracy.

The Egyptian prime minister Dr. I. Sharaf stated publicly that the distribution of funds to various Egyptian organizations without permission from the Egyptian government is in violation of Egyptian law. He further stated that he is going to reveal the names of the organizations that take money form the American “AID” agency. (www.alwafd.org, 8/16/2011).

It is unfortunate that the U.S> government continues to commit one blunder after another as part of its foreign policy, which is being influenced by lobbyists and interest groups in contradiction with its national interest.

A recent survey of Egyptian views of the U.S. showed that 95% of the Egyptian public views the U.S. negatively.

Aug 21, 2011

The Killing of Egyptian Militaries by Israeli Forces

Since the 1979 Camp David Peace Treaty, Israel has been violating the basic conditions of that agreement. During the past three decades, Egyptian soldiers were killed at the Israeli-Egyptian border and in most cases; the Israeli government expressed its regrets. However, the January 25th Revolution has inspired new military and political trends that is totally different from the policy of the Mubarak regime. During the past 30 years, Egypt was an American-Israeli satellite. Whatever the U.S. dictated, Mubarak used to implement. During the past few days, the Israeli military forces inside Egypt’s boundaries killed five Egyptian soldiers.

The U.N. peace force in the Sinai Peninsula issued a report confirming Israeli aggressions against Egyptian soldiers. Nevertheless, the Israeli aggression has created a public upheaval all over Egypt, calling for retaliation against Israeli aggression. Tens of thousands of protestors in front of the Israeli Embassy in Cairo called for the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador from Egypt and the recall of the Egyptian ambassador from Israel.

The Israeli aggression gave a new boost to all Egyptian political groups in support of the Egyptian military forces. In the meantime, the Israeli defense minister issued an apology and expressed regrets the killings of the Egyptian soldiers. The Egyptian government rejected the apology and demanded an investigation of such violations. In the meantime, foreign powers, especially the U.S., are using their influence to avert a crisis and possible confrontation between Egypt and Israel.

The crisis has been the most dangerous since 1979. Prior cases of Israeli aggression during the Mubarak regime were dismissed due to the influence of the U.S. over Egyptian policy. This trend and strategy is part of the previous regime’s policy. It is no longer a secret that the expelled president Mubarak was under the thumb of both Israel and the U.S. and such information is prevalent in Egypt. This recent crisis led to a united front of all Egyptian political parties supporting the military forces and calling for an evaluation of the relationship between Egypt and the U.S. Also, they are calling for the reconsideration of the Camp David Agreement. It is unfortunate that the U.S. government has been following a one-way foreign policy in support of Israel.

During the previous 12 months, I have witnessed several documented rationales from various sources supporting the U.S.’s blind support of Israel. U.S. foreign policy towards Egypt has, since the time of President Sadat, put Egypt under its thumb. During the past forty years, American politicians have pursued the same strategy in the Arab world as a whole and especially in Egypt, by supporting authoritarian regimes as long as they implement the American strategy.

This era is over and the Egyptian public is demanding a reassessment of the Egyptian-American relationship. They are focusing on important issues such as:

1) American foreign aid to Egypt, which has been instrumental in giving the U.S. the upper hand to implement U.S. foreign policy. All political parties have called on the Egyptian government to reject American aid to Egypt. For example, the Egyptian public, as well as the Egyptian government, recently protested the U.S. distribution of $64 million to various civil and political groups and organizations in Egypt. Such an act is done in violation of Egyptian law. The money distributed is part of $150 million of American foreign aid to Egypt. Imagine if a foreign government gave money to various political and civil groups in the U.S. in order to influence the political trends in the U.S. Such an act would be considered interference in the American political system, which is prohibited by law. In my judgment, Egypt will be better off without American economic and even military aid. Considering Israeli influences over the American congress and White House, Egypt will be better off without such insignificant help from the U.S.

2) The Egyptian public is calling for, among others things, the reevaluation of the Camp David Agreement in light of continuous Israeli violations. More Egyptian military forces need to be permitted to enter Sinai to ensure stability and Egyptian influence over its territory.

3) Reconsideration of trade agreements between Egypt and Israel, such as the Qauize Trade Agreement, which facilitates exports of Egyptian-Israeli products to the U.S.

4) The sale of natural gas to Israel, which was done illegal to begin with as part of the peace treaty of 1979.

These points are being discussed by the Egyptian public, which is asking the government and the military council to adopt them.

Aug 16, 2011

The Syrian Tragedy

The past few months of violent uprising in Syria led to the killing of more than 2,000 people and the influx of more than ten thousand refugees to neighboring states. Such a bloody situation led to international concern about the Syrian government’s ruthless policy towards its population. Many foreign and Arab heads of states warned President Assad to stop its army’s ruthless attacks against the protestors. The Arab states, after nearly five months of silence, called on President Assad to send the army back to its camps and start immediate political reforms that will lead to stability in Syria.

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Jordan have called their ambassadors back home for consultation. This political act is also a sign of protest against what is taking place in Syria. Also, Turkey sent its foreign minister, Mr. Davutogh, to Syria to urge President Assad to put an end to the killing of Syrian protestors. The foreign minister pressured Assad to start immediate political reforms that will lead to Syria’s stability.

Despite all the pressure and the official delegates travels to Syria to urge President Assad to stop the Syrian army’s ruthless attacks, his response was that he would not stop pursuing the terrorist groups in Syria who have killed more than 300 soldiers and security men.

It was reported that some of these soldiers were killed by army officers because they refused to kill protestors. Nevertheless, the political pressure generated in the Middle East and at the U.N. especially by the superpowers might lead to some political reforms in Syria. However, at this point, the chances are very poor that the Syrian regime will submit to external pressure. Also, I think the regime has crossed the point of no return.

It is also of interest that some of the Arab states who are pressuring the Syrian government to initiate political reforms and stop killing their people have failed to do similar things in their countries. A few moths ago, the Saudi and Bahraini governments suppressed the peaceful protest movements that were calling for political reforms and free elections. Saudi troops were moved to Bahrain, which helped the Bahrain Sunni government to crush the uprising. I would say that both Saudi Arabia and Bahrain should clean their backyards first in order to be more credible.

It is also of interest to read the global news that has been revealed recently, that the Saudi government is creating new terror law (as they call it) with the purpose of stifling protestors, according to Amnesty International. Criticizing the ruling family will be considered an offense that will send the attacker to jail for 10 years. The proposed law is aimed at the future protestors and not at the potential terrorists.

There is also another reason behind the pressure mounted by several Arab states against Syria: the fact that all of them are dominated by Sunni Muslim rulers, while the Syrian regime is dominated by a minority Muslim Alawite, an offshoot of Shia who are being criticized for killing Sunni Muslims, especially during the month of Ramadan.

There is no doubt that the Syrian regime, headed by President Assad, is almost controlled by members of his family such as Maher Assad, who is the military leader of the Republican Guard, which is the other strongest military regiment in the Syrian army. Other high military posts are also headed by relatives or associates of the Alawite community.

The influence of the Assad family extends to other political and economic institutions, which led to the spread of corruption on a larger scale due to the absence of democracy and lack of transparency and accountability.

During the past three months, President Assad has promised political reforms and free elections. In the meantime, the army is still attack and killing protestors. In addition, many thousands of people have been arrested and I see no end in sight. At the same time, the protestors’ crowds continue to get larger in many Syrian cities. Even the political slogans have changed. From “Irhal Now” (“Leave Now”) to a new one: “You Should Be Hanged”.

My assessment of the Syrian situation reflects no light at the end of the tunnel. The next few weeks will shed light on what the outcome will be in Sy

Aug 11, 2011

The United Nations and the Palestinian State

The Director of the Arab League, Dr. Nabeel al-Arabi, said recently (7/24/11) that discussions about the Israeli Palestinian conflict are nothing but a waste of time. He emphasized that the creation of a Palestinian state should be done through the United Nations. He sated that all members of the Arab League are supporting that move, which will be discussed at the U.N. annual meeting in September 2011.

It is of interest to read an article in the New York Times (8/4/11) “Seeking Balance On the Mideast” by Nicholas D. Kristof.

Mr. Kristof was referring to the wart of democracy in congress using the latest debt ceiling horrors. He pointed out that, “There’s one area where congress has been even more obstructionist: the Middle East”. He tried to explain that the Palestinians will bring their case to the U.N. next month, seeking recognition of their state. The irony of this conflict is reflected in the U.S. foreign policy, which is designed to support Israeli policy regardless of its impact on American national interest. He pointed out that the House of Representatives voted 406:7 to call on the Obama administration to use its diplomatic capital to try to block the initiative, while also threatening to cut the Palestinians funding if they proceed to seek statehood. He went even further and pointed out that when Israel stormed into Gaza in 2008 to halt rocket attacks, more than 1,300 Gazans were killed along with 13 Israelis, according to B’Tselem, a respected Israeli human rights group. As Gazan blood flowed, the House voted 390:5 to hail the invasion as “Israel’s right to defend itself”.

Mr. Kristof, in his analysis, referred to several Jewish writers and organizations that are speaking against Israeli policy towards the Palestinians and trying to inform the American public as playing a balanced role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Nevertheless, the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is the most influential lobby in the U.S. and American foreign policy in the Middle East has been one sided for more than fifty years. For example, President Obama has abandoned the Palestinians and has said recently that the U.S. will veto the proposal of recognizing a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders. Such a statement by President Obama is in contradiction of the general political views of all major powers such as Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China, who indicated that if the issue of the Palestinian case is brought to the U.N., they will be supportive. Also, 122 states have already recognized the Palestinian state.

One of the basic factors behind the U.S.’s foreign policy in the Middle East is the influence of lobbyists in the U.S. Despite the fact that Americans vote and send their representative to the American congress, decision are influenced by lobbyists who are on payrolls of big economical, political, ethnic, racial, religious and educational groups. Their financial contributions to members of congress during elections runs into the hundreds of millions of dollars, leading to the fact that the majority of the members of congress are put under the thumb of lobbyists. Senator Reid put it clearly when he said that the U.S. congress is the most corrupt in the history of the U.S. The situation has even been recognized by President Obama, who during his campaign, promised to curtail the lobbyists influence in Washington D.C. So far, he failed to fulfill his promises to the American public. It is a well-known fact that the Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is the most influential lobbyist group in the U.S. and has succeeded in putting congress under its thumb.

According to ex-Senator Jim Abourisk, the pro-Israeli lobby does most of its work without publicity. But every member of congress and every would be candidate for congress comes to quickly understand a basic lesson: the money that is needed to run for office comes with great ease to those who support Israel, provided the candidate makes certain promises in writing to vote favorably on issues considered important to Israel. For further information on AIPAC’s contributions to members of congress, read the “Washington Report on Middle East Affairs”, Vol. XXIX, no. 8, November 2010.

What drives much of congressional support for Israel is the knowledge that money will be given to one’s opponent if one does not support Israel. This situation led to the defeat of a few members of congress who opposed Israeli policy, such as ex-Senator Charles Percy and Congressman Paul Findley, who explained this in his book They Dared To Speak. Also, former senator Fritz Holling wrote in an article in the Charleston Daily Post Courier (May 6, 2004) that the role of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) the most important lobby group in Washington D.C., is determining U.S. policy in the Middle East. “You can’t have an Israeli policy other than what AIPAC gives you around here. I have followed them mostly in the main, but I have also resisted signing certain letters from time to time to give the poor president a chance. I don’t care whether it’s a Republican or a Democrat – that all of a sudden AIPAC will tell him exactly what the policy is and senators and members of congress out to sign the letters.” He further pointed out that the U.S. has lost its moral authority. There are other members of the Senate and House who spoke of the power or AIPAC’s influence on U.S. foreign policy. The tragedy of this is that AIPAC has succeeded in blending Israel national interest with U.S. national interest and has misled the American public. In reality, Israeli puts its national interest ahead of the U.S. national interest. Since its creation, Israel has been biting the hand that feeds it. Between 1948 and 2009, Israel has received more than $160 billion of American taxpayers’ money in foreign, economic and military aid. Despite all of that, Israel has been caught spying on the U.S. on several occasions, and some of the vital military information was passed to both Russia and China.

On September 24th, 2010, the press reported that some members of congress sent a letter to President Obama to release the American Jewish spy J. Pollard from jail. He is serving a life sentence for passing vital military information from the U.S. to Israel. Mr. Pollard’s case is one among several other spy cases. The reaction to such a violation by Israel has been minimal due to the power and influence of AIPAC on congress. Any members w ho attack Israel are automatically labeled anti-Semitic. For more on this, read Professor Norman Finkelstein’s book Beyond Chutzpah. He noted that whenever Israel is criticized for its violation and abuse of human rights, its supporters sound the alarm “new anti-Semitism” is upon us.

For that and other reasons, President Obama has failed to condemn Israel’s abuse of the human rights of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.

President Obama has lost his courage to stand up for the truth. He has been snubbed by Prime Minister Netanyahu several times and failed to challenge the Israeli prime minister. One of the basic reasons for this, from my point of view, is the position he finds himself in because of the influence of AIPAC on the majority of the members of congress. As a matter of fact, during the past few months, letters were signed by some members of congress telling the president to stop pressuring and challenging the Israeli government to participate in the peace process. President Obama is in a very awkward position. He was elected with a promise to implement a national reform agenda and foreign policy agenda and for that reason he is trying to avoid a clash with members of his own democratic party, whose support he needs to pass his national agenda. It is a pity that there is no party discipline in the American political structure. Sometimes, members of one political party desert their own party and join the other, or call themselves independent members of congress. What matters to many members of congress is their personal interest to assure their reelection, regardless of the cost to American national interest. President Obama, in my judgment, might compromise on his agenda regarding Israel to win the support of at least some members of his own political party.

It was reported on August 9, 2011 from Informational Learning House “Twenty percent of the House of Representatives will be spending its recess holiday on American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) paid tours of Israel. This does not seem to have made the mainstream news. The tours consist of 26 Democratic congressmen headed by the House Minority Leader, mayor of Maryland and two of the 55 Republican’s, lead by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. This is intended to provide congress with a “deep understanding” of the situation in the Middle East. “Sure it will, but one suspects the understanding will be in one direction only.” (www.informationlearninghouse.info/article28790.htm#.TKHT64MVCQO.email by Philip Geraldi).

It should be of interest to know that Congressman Cantor, Republican House Majority Leader, is a well-known Jewish Zionist and strong supporter of Israel. It would be interesting to ask the members of the House who are going on such a junket to Israel, whose national interest should

Aug 4, 2011

The Historical Egyptian Trial

The historical trial of the ousted president Mubarak and his two sons, Gamal and Alaa, as well as previous Minister of Interior Habib al-Adli and six of his aids took place in the police academy in Cairo (8/3/11).

Millions of Egyptian and foreign viewers watched the trial on TV. All of the accused were seen in the court cage where Mr. Mubarak was on a mobile hospital bed and the rest of the accused were standing. The court prosecutor read the wide range of crimes committed by the accused.

Mr. Mubarak faces three major crimes: the killing of unarmed Egyptian protestors, the illegal sale of natural gas to Israel and the abuse and waste of public wealth. If the ousted president is convicted, he will face a death sentence.

The ex-minister al-Adli is facing similar charges as well and if convicted will also face a death sentence. The other accused individuals, Jamal and Alaa, will receive 5-15 years in prison if convicted. The other accused also appeared in court (8/4/11).

The interesting open court trial reflects the beginning of a new stage of democracy in Egypt, where all people are considered equal according to the law. This gives Egypt a new birth certificate reflecting a new era of freedom and democracy that the whole world is witnessing.

Furthermore, seeing and listening the prosecutor calling the names of the accused and reading the accusation of crimes committed was a historical moment, despite the fact that all the accused denied that they committed any crimes. Nearly seven months ago, no person in Egypt could have predicted seeing the accused in a court cage. It is a tribute to the young Egyptians who started the revolution and the millions of Egyptians who supported them.

Finally, credit also should be given to the Egyptian army, who refused to turn their guns against their own people and despite the delay of the trial of the ousted president, have finally responded to public requests to implement the revolutionary demands.

Nevertheless, until the date when the accused appeared in court, many people, including myself and those I spoke with, thought that the trial would not take place due to the fact that many members of the Higher Military Council were appointed by Mubarak. These members will be reluctant to see Mubarak being humiliated in public. In addition, the Egyptian Higher Military Council, was also under heavy pressure by the political leaders of oil producing countries, especially Saudi Arabia, to stop any attempts to prosecute Mubarak. The Saudis were very angry when the military forced Mubarak to leave office as a result of the demands by millions of Egyptians.

The history of the Arab world reflects that the political heads of state stay in power until they die, are killed in office or are removed by a military coup. A new horizon has begun to emerge in the Arab world, in which dictatorship and authoritarianism is no longer acceptable to the people who have thrown away the blanket of fear.

The trial of the ousted Egyptian president who ruled Egypt with an iron first has come to an end. His prosecution is sending a message that from now on, no person will be above the law.

Finally, the prosecution of Hosni Mubarak will send a message to the remaining corrupt political leaderships of the Arab world

The Salafi – Another Face of Islam

The Islamic Salafi group’s massive invasion of Tahrir Square July 29th was the result of a planned strategy. It was reported (almasry-alyoum, 8/1/2011) that the Salafi group began to transport supporters from different parts of Egypt by bus three days in advance of Friday, which was designated as the “United Front”. All organizations, including the Muslim Brotherhood and various Salafi Islamic groups, agreed in advance that no religious signs would be carried and that the emphasis would be placed on implementing the January 25th Revolution demands that have not been fulfilled.

Instead, the Salafi group disregarded the agreement and after the noon prayer, Tahrir Square was filled with people carrying religions signs with various slogans such as “There is no God but God and the secularists are the enemy of God”, “Raise your head high you are a Muslim” and “The people want the application of the Sharia Law”.

There were many more of these signs, which I saw on TV, in addition to the use of loud speakers to shout Islamic Salafi slogans. The press estimated the Salafi group in Tahrir Square to be close to half a million people. Furthermore, it was also reported that the Salafi were carrying the Saudi flag, which I think was a disgraceful act, regardless of the intention behind it. Was it a sign to let the Saudi Wahabi religious group know that their reported financial support of religious groups in Egypt is paying off?

Let me emphasize one point as a foreign observer who was an eyewitness to the January 25th Revolution: it was the young Egyptians who initiated the revolution and they are still its backbone. It was not the Salafi group or even any Islamic organized group who initiated the revolution; they were late participants in it.

Some organized Egyptian groups are asking the Egyptian Higher Military Council to investigate the Saudi flag raising in Tahrir Square to find out who is behind it. It is no secret that the Saudi government is doing its utmost to prevent the spread of the spring revolution into the Gulf area. The success of the Egyptian revolution will have a very positive impact on the rest of the Arab world. Nevertheless, there are still many authoritarian dictatorship regimes that are suppressing their own people and have gone to the extreme by turning their guns against the citizens to prevent them from challenging their authority.

The killing of thousands of peaceful protestors in Yemen, Syria and Libya reflects the brutality of Arab dictatorship. Nevertheless, Islamic Salafi groups are conducting their own type of war. As Sheikh Mohamed ala-il deen Abou-alazaim, the founder of the Egyptian Tahrir party and the leader of the Sufi alazmia said, the Salafi religious philosophy is an extension of the Wahabi religious dogma that does not accept other points of view besides their own and such thinking reflects that they are narrow-minded. They view Sufi and Christians as pagans and heretics. (al-masry-alyoum, 8/1/2011).

The Egyptians Islamic Salafi group is an extension of the Saudi Wahabi group, who are close-minded religious fanatics and who use their financial resources to extend their umbrella of ignorance under the pretext of Islam.

The Egyptian writer and historian Mahmoud Ismail, who is a specialist in Islamic history and civilization, attacked the Islamic brotherhood and called them opportunists. He also referred to the Salafi group, which is under the thumb of the Wahabi group. (al-masry-alyoum, 7/27/2011).

Aug 3, 2011

European Islamophobia

The recent terrorist attack by an extreme right wing Norwegian led to the deaths of 76 people. Mr. Anders Breiviek, the attacker, stated in court, “the purpose of his action was to strike a blow against the Labor Party because of its policy of ‘mass import of Muslims’.” He claimed he acted to save Europe from Islam. (Financial Times, 7/26/2011).

A tragic thing to notice is that immediately after the attack, the mass media (print and electronic) in western society gave the impression that the attack in Norway may be related to Islamic terrorism.

Islamophobia is deep-rooted in western societies and it pre-dates the rise of al-Qaeda and its attack against the U.S on 9/11.

Islamophobia in the west dates back more than a thousand years to the Crusades wars. Pope Benedict II called on Christian European political rulers to organize a war in the Middle East to save Christ’s land. The irony of the pope’s call is the fact that “Christ’s land” was inhabited by the people of three monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, who lived side by side. The Crusaders war lasted nearly 200 years but at the end they were expelled from the Middle East region. The anti-Islam views are deep rooted since that time in nearly all western societies. However, since the end of World War II, extreme right wing political views have been increasing in western societies.

The creation of the state of Israel in 1948 opened the door for Jewish Zionist organizations and some Christian evangelicals to play an active role against Islam.

The Financial Times presented an interesting article (July 26, 2011) in which it shed some light on extreme right wing populist parties that have been on the rise in European states. They have been active in state politics as is reflected in the following data:

1) Norway – Progress Party received 22.9% of the vote

2) Finland – True Finns received 19.1% of the vote

3) Sweden – Swedish Democrats received 5.7% of the vote

4) Denmark – People’s party received 13.8% of the vote

5) Netherlands – Freedom Party received 15.5% of the vote

6) Austria – Freedom Party received 17.5% of the vote

7) France – National Front received 4.3% of the vote

8) U.K. – British National Party received 1.9% of the vote

9) Italy – Northern League Party received 8.3% of the vote

10) Hungary Jobbic Party received 16.7% of the vote

11) Bulgaria – ATTACK Party received 9.4% of the vote

All of these political parties have attacked Islamic immigration to European countries and have expressed their concern about Islamic threats to their Christian identity. Pope Benedict the 16th publicly stated that Europe consisted of Christian states and he was opposed to Turkey, a Muslim nation, joining the European Common Market. The pope’s statement enforced anti-Islamic views in Europe.

There are several other factors that have nourished Islamophobia in western societies, especially in Europe. The economic factors influenced the views of many blue-collar workers who are unemployed. They tend to view immigrants as a major cause for their unemployment, especially when the rate of unemployment continues to rise. Immigrants are looked upon as their competitors for employment. Such feelings contributed to hostility to foreign-born European citizens. Also, they look at foreign workers as the major cause of depressing wages.

In Norway, nearly 28% of the population is foreign born. However, not all of these immigrants are Muslim. Nevertheless, the number of Muslim immigrants to Europe have been increasing and most of them are from previous European colonies in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Their number has been estimated to be around 53 million as of 2007, according to the German Central Institute – Islam Archive. That number is equal to 7.2% of the European population, excluding Turkey.

This small percentage is viewed as a threat not only by the working class but also by some of the heads of European states like A. Merkel of Germany, N. Sarkozy of France and D. Cameron of the U.K. All of them have referred to Muslim immigrants as threats to European identity and believe that multiculturalism has proved to be a failure. These leaders have ignored the positive contributions these immigrants have made to their countries. First, what percentage of the immigrants are college graduates and professionals? It has been estimated that the coast to raise and educate a person is over $350,000. For example, the Arab world alone has suffered from the brain drain to the West, which has been taking place over the past 40-50 years, which have attracted millions of highly educated people.

The free cost of such highly educated Muslim immigrants to the west should be classified as a form of human and economic aid that runs into the billions of dollars on a yearly basis. Furthermore, the economic contributions of the Islamic immigrants to western states cannot be denied. Another positive factor that has been ignored is the fact that nearly all European countries’ birth rates have been on a steady decline. The birth rates have fallen below the replacement level, which is two babies per family. The flow of immigrants to these European countries reflects a vital demographic advantage. It will slow the aging of these European states, where in the near future the demands for workers will increase to fill needed positions that are vital for the maintenance and economic development of these countries. European political leaders rarely recognize the important economic role-played by educated immigrants in the west publicly.

Aug 2, 2011

They Started United and Ended Divided

Friday July 29, 2011, the “United Front” protest movement, which attracted nearly two million participants, ended up being a total failure.

Prior to the protest movement, representatives of all political and religious groups met to agree on a designated name, which was the “United Front”. Also, they agreed that no signs connected with any political or religious groups will be carried to Tahrir Square.’’

After the noon prayer, many signs began to appear with different religious connotations and Tahrir Square appeared as if it was controlled by various Islamic groups. Some of the signs read, “Join us and do not be a part of the atheists”. Other signs said “Islamiah, Islamiah”. Furthermore, it was reported that some Islamic Salafi groups and others attacked the platforms of the 6th of April and the Kifaya movements and threw empty water bottles at them in addition to preventing them from using their loudspeakers.

Other Islamic groups were shouting through the loudspeakers demanding the application of Sharia law and stating that those who are not in agreement should leave Egypt. Other Islamic slogans used were directed at the Egyptian Higher Military council, warning them not to use the proposed document of basic principles that will be above the constitution, which is supposed to include, among other things, that the Egyptian government will be a secular one. The principle proposed to prevent any religious group in parliament in the future from declaring the Islamization of the government.

Nevertheless, what the various Islamic groups have done in Tahrir Square was in total violation of the agreement that they supported to stress a united front prior to the day of protests. The intention of these Islamic groups, led by the Muslim Brotherhood, is to get a message across that they are in control of the January 25th Revolution, which was reflected in the signs their followers carried stating “Islamiah, Islamiah”.

The history of the Muslim Brotherhood, since the movement began more than 80 years ago, assumes government control at any cost to convert it into an Islamic regime. Furthermore, the various other Islamic Salafi groups who shared a common interpretation of the Saudi Wahabi Islamic group’s interpretation of Islam goes even further in terms of their views on how Egyptian society should be managed. These groups, in my judgment, are a discredit to Islam. As some enlightened Muslim writers put it, they are trying to created “Al-Deen al-Badeel” or the new Islamic interpretation. Such personal behavior is reflected throughout history and especially in the three basic monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Many of those who classified themselves as the logical, knowledgeable religious experts tried to interpret the content of their religious books such as the old Torah, the Old and New Testaments and the Quran, interjecting their personal views on religion. Such actions throughout history have created divisions and confusion among believers in all three monotheistic religions. Such conflicts are reflected among the followers of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

The Muslim Brotherhood, other various salafi Islamic movements and religious groups reflect on the personal interpretation of Islam by those who call themselves religious experts. It was reported that some of the protestors were carrying the Saudi Arabian flag as an indication of the influence of the Wahabi religious group on the Islamic Salafist groups. The Wahabi religious group is a discredit to Islam in terms of their interpretation of the Quran.

Nevertheless, the basic principle document proposed by the Egyptian Higher Military Council is an important guideline that will be above the constitution to protect it from the possibility of it being manipulated by some political groups in the future parliament.

Religious beliefs and practices are between the believers and their Creator, but the country is the homeland for all.

What happened in Tahrir Square July 29th was unfortunate and might weaken the outcome of the January 25 Revolution.