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.

Jul 21, 2012

The Revolution Stalled


The Muslim Brotherhood, which was established in Egypt in 1928, played a significant political role, especially prior to the 1952 revolution. Since that date, the Muslim Brotherhood party has been prevented from participating in the political arena of Egypt, which began during the J. Abed el Nasser government.

However, they stayed in contact with the Egyptian grass roots, providing a wide range of educational, healthcare services and economic aid to the poverty-stricken segment of the population.

Since the January 25th revolution, the Muslim Brotherhood has committed many political blunders by trying to take over nearly all governmental authorities, despite the fact that they were not the ones who initiated the revolution.

I would like to illustrate and focus on some points that reflect the mistakes of their negative political strategy.

First, the Muslim Brotherhood joined the young people’s revolution on the 5th day after it started. This reflects that when they were assured of its success, they joined the protestors.

Second, after they joined, they began to demand the fall of Mubarak’s regime like the other groups, but began to assume the major role in al-Tahrir square.

They tried to send a message that they are the major political force that led to the fall of Mubarak’s regime on February 11, 2011.

Third, the Egyptian Higher Military Council played a constructive role by not turning their guns against the protesters. The military was eager to remove Mubarak in order to prevent his son Jamal from inheriting his position. The young protestors did them a big favor. Furthermore, the military also has their own secret political agenda to maintain their political influence that they established during the previous six decades.

Fourth, the Muslim Brotherhood is the largest and best-organized political group in Egypt. The military council was aware of it and began to plan with the Muslim Brotherhood leaders to stop the revolution.

Fifth, the political greed of the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood led them to disregard the young Egyptians who were the vanguards of the revolution. They have joined the military council by ignoring the revolutionary demands for further reforms. The negative reactions of both the military and the Brotherhood were reflected in the harsh treatment the protestors experienced at the following sites: Masparo Square, Mohamed Mahmoud Street, the Ministry of Interior, and the headquarters of the prime minister. In all of these clashes, many young protestors were killed by the security forces.

Sixth, the Muslim Brotherhood insisted on having the parliament election before drafting the new constitution. They predicted that they will have a large share of the parliament seats and that it would put them in a better position to draft the new constitution according to their political-religious philosophy. As a result of the election, they were demanding the appointment of 50-60% of the members of the committee in charge of writing the constitution, which is supposed be written by 100 members. Their demands contributed to the delay of the drafting of the constitution.

Seventh, the blunder committed by the newly elected president Morsi, who issued a decree to the members of the dissolved parliament to return and conduct their duties as usual. President Morsi’s decision was a challenge to the Egyptian Constitutional Higher Court who issued its verdict that the parliamentary election was conducted in violation of the election law.

Even when the members of parliament met, they sent a request to the appeals court to revoke the decision of the Constitutional Higher Court authority regarding dissolving the parliament. The Court of Appeals rejected that request by saying it is not pertinent to their jurisdiction.

Dr. Morsi’s decision was inspired, in my view, to test the authority of the Egyptian Higher Military Council’s authority. However, the impact of his decision led to more resentment on the part of the general public, who began to lose more confidence in the Muslim Brotherhood’s sincerity and political ability to run the country.

President Morsi’s decision to reinstate the parliament was not only a challenge to the legality of Egyptian Constitutional Higher Court, but an insult to the judicial system and an act of defiance of Egyptian law. President Morsi violated the oath of office according to the Egyptian constitution.

Many of Egypt’s constitutional experts have opposed President Morsi’s decision, and much of Egypt’s mass media has allied itself with the judicial system and the Egyptian military. President Morsi should resent that order and should start focusing on many of the problems facing Egypt, especially the deteriorating economy that is at the edge of collapsing.

President Morsi should detach himself from the Muslim Brotherhood and start acting as the political leader of all Egyptians. After all, he only received less than one third of the eligible Egyptian votes. I wish President Morsi the success he needs badly.

Jul 11, 2012

The First Democratic Libyan Election


On July 7th, 2012, the Libyan population experienced their first free and democratic election in more than five decades. There are 2.8 million eligible voters in Libya who were free to elect 200 members of a council whose responsibility will be to draft a new constitution, elect a new prime minister and government and set a time for the election of a new parliament. The transitional government allocated 100 members to be elected from the western region, 60 members from the eastern region and 40 members from the southern region.

The allocation of such members was not accepted, especially in the eastern region of ben Gazi, which was the center of the revolution that led to the collapse of the previous dictator M. Gadhafi. The people in that region resented the decision of the transitional government because it gave them less numbers than those in the western region. For that reason, more than 100 voting precincts were destroyed out of 1554 precincts nationwide.

The higher election committee pointed out that due to the lack of poor security in the country, they have placed 13,000 soldiers in charge of protecting voting places nationwide.

It was reported on July 8, 2012 that 60% of the illegible voters have exercised their rights. According to the projected result of the election, the United National political parties under the leadership of Mahmoud Jibreel emerged as the major winner against the Muslim Brothers.

The result of the first Libyan election reflects a very important political trend which is the opposite of the trend that took place in Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco, where political Islamic parties emerged as the winners in the recent political elections.

During the last four decades of Gadhafi’s authoritarian regime, political parties were not allowed to be formed. 

Jul 5, 2012

The Syrian Tragedy


More than 16 months have passed since the Spring Revolution, which was sparked by a young teenager in Dere3a-Syria, which led to the Syrian uprising. Since then, more than 16,000 people have been killed by the brutality of the Syrian regime under the leadership of Bashar al Assad.

The Syrian uprising has been politicized internationally and attempts by the U.N. have been initiated to stop the bloodbath taking place on a daily basis.

So far, these attempts, sponsored by the U.N. and supported by the leading world superpowers and the Arab League, have failed to produce any positive results.

The Syrian president has opted for the military approach over the political one, which called for his resignation and the establishment of a transitional government until a free election takes place.

Nevertheless, all such efforts led nowhere. Recently the Arab League sponsored a meeting that took place in Cairo, where nearly 250 members from various Syrian opposition groups attended to establish a united front to meet the challenges of the brutality of the al Assad regime.

The meeting was attended by foreign ministers of Turkey, Iraq, Qatar and Egypt. All spoke and urged the leadership of the Syrian opposition groups to created a united national front that would strengthen the struggle of those fighting the Syrian army inside Syria. Even the new president of Egypt, Dr. M. Morsi, sent a message that was read by Egyptian foreign ministers, urging the group to forget their differences and unite in support of their cause.

The major friction between the various groups is attributed to one major policy. One group has been calling for a foreign intervention to stop the bloodbath, which, in addition to killing 16,000 Syrians, has created over 150,000 refugees in neighboring states, such as Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon.

The second major group opposes foreign intervention and is calling for a political solution to the problem in the interest of the country as a whole. Their rationale is influenced by the fact that the regime is supported by two major powers, Russia and China, in addition to Iran, who has been sending weapons to the Syrian government and preventing the U.N. from adopting sanctions against Syria. For that reason and others, the military approach will take a long time and at the end will be disastrous for Syria.

It was reported on July 3rd that 215 members were among the participating groups that have signed an agreement supporting the political approach as the best way to face the challenge. The adopted document called for the removal of Bashar al Assad’s regime and the punishment of those responsible for the killings of many civilians in very inhumane and brutal ways.

In the meantime, the Free Syrian Army, whose number has been estimated to be between 30,000 and 70,000, opposed the Arab League’s meeting and are fighting the Syrian army in various areas of Syria. The Free Syrian Army consists of soldiers who have deserted the Syrian army in protest of the brutality against unarmed civilian protestors.

The Free Syrian Army is getting armaments from the Arab Gulf states, but they are not strong enough to meet the threat of army tanks and airplanes. Nevertheless, their influence in the long run will have a positive impact and will encourage more defectors from the Syrian army.

In a previous post written more than a year ago, I pointed out that the only effective way to remove al Assad’s regime is through a military coup. Unfortunately, the fact is that the Chinese and Russian governments are part of the international political game and are using the Syrian tragedy to send a message to the U.S. and its western allies to stop interfering in the internal affairs of foreign states. What is going on under the Syrian umbrella is a continuation of the Cold War era. It is a tragedy that the Syrian population is paying a heavy price for it.

Jul 1, 2012

The President of the Second Egyptian Republic

During the past few days (June 29-30) a few important events took place in Egypt. The first event took place in Tahrir Square on the 29th of June, when President M. Morsi addressed hundreds of thousands of Egyptians who were cheering for him. He took the first unofficial presidential oath, where he emphasized that the people of Egypt are the real authority. He stressed the fact that no other authority supersedes the people’s power and he promised to serve them faithfully and complete the unfinished objectives of the January 25th Revolution.

The second important event, which took place on June 30th, where President Morsi took the official oath in front of the members of the Egyptian constitutional higher court. After the oath, Morsi became the first official freely elected president of the second Egyptian Republic.  Egypt is entering a new stage of life under a freely and democratically elected president who will be responsible to the people who elected him.

The third important event was President Morsi addressing a large group of governmental and non-governmental officials at Cairo University. In his address, he expressed his appreciation at being elected to serve the Egyptian people. He admitted that Egypt faces many challenges, economically, politically and socially. He asked for the support of Egypt to progress and assume its true role as a progressive and modern nation.

The president stressed the fact that Egypt will regain its leading political role in the Arab world and Middle East region. He emphasized the need for the Palestinians to regain their rights and for the blood shed to stop in Syria. The president stressed that the security of the Arab world would be part of Egypt’s security as well.

Furthermore, he emphasized that Egypt will respect all agreements and treaties signed by previous Egyptian governments. Egypt will cooperate with foreign powers, but will not permit foreign interferences in Egyptian internal affairs.

In his address, President Morsi stressed his appreciation and thanked the Egyptian armed forces for their protection of people and support of the revolution.

On the national level, he promised to support social justice for all and that he would not permit any discrimination against people based on religious or ethnic affiliations. He said there would be equal treatment for all, especially for women who have been deprived of it.

He also stressed the pressing need for educational reform and more scientific research because it is the key to Egypt’s future progress.  Industrialization and tourism need to be revitalized in order to create new jobs for the unemployed millions of Egyptians.

President Morsi concluded his address at Cairo University by asking for the support of his political opponents as a must in order for Egypt to overcome the difficulties in the road ahead. President Morsi is a fighting personality and will not give up easily.

The third official ritual on that day was the official transfer of power from the hands of the Egyptian Higher Military Council to the newly elected President Morsi. The official ritual was held at the Egyptian Army Hikestep, where representative segments from the Egyptian army were present at the military base. During that meeting, General Tantawi, who is the head of the Armed Forces, performed the official ritual of transferring the political leadership to the newly elected president as they promised previously.

President Morsi thanked the Egyptian armed forces for their commitment of protecting Egypt and its people. He also stressed his support of the Egyptian army and its needs without any reservations. Such public support removed the circulating negative rumors between the newly elected president and members of the Egyptian Higher Military Council.

The new president seems to go to the extreme to accommodate the military, despite the fact that briefly before his election, they stripped the incoming president of many important political functions.

I still believe that the Egyptian Higher Military Council will not surrender their authority, regardless of who is in the president position. Time will tell. At the end of the ritual, General Tantawi presented President Morsi with the shield of the armed forces. It is considered the highes