Update on US, Egypt & Israel, mostly bad....
Egypt. Team Obama stands idly by--worse, sends more F-16s--as Egypt engages thugs from Hamas to help suppress domestic opposition to Mohammed Morsi's Islamist tyranny. Freed from Mubarak's Gaza blockade--leaky but moderately effective--Hamas now turns to undermining the Palestine Authority on the West Bank. Recently, an Egyptian judge banned YouTube for one month, citing an "anti-Islam" video posted at the site. (As of 2010, an estimated 18 percent of Egyptians were Internet users.) Weekly Standard Mideast maven Lee Smith sees an Egypt on the edge of chaos.....
news regarding Egypt is brief, but noteworthy: Those forecasts auguring
from the entrails of Mubarak’s demise the birth of a universal Muslim
Brotherhood-run caliphate stretching from North Africa to the Persian
Gulf were off by a very wide mark. The Islamist organization, which has
been building its political base and waiting in the shadows to take
power since its 1928 founding, turns out to be incapable even of
Contrary to the reading of many Western academics, the Brotherhood did not win the presidency because of its long history of grassroots work, its social activism, or its political acumen and organization. Rather it came to rule Egypt simply because everyone else—from the secularists and liberals who kicked off the revolution to the military—was that much more incompetent. The fearful notion, still held by many in the West, that the Brotherhood plots to own the hearts and minds of the world’s billion-plus Muslims comports not with reality but only with the Brotherhood’s preening and now patently absurd self-image. Under Morsi’s stewardship, the Muslim Brotherhood model has been shown to produce poverty, hunger, instability, and violent internal conflict. Who among the umma would seek to unify under such a banner?
But most ominous in Smith's view is that Egyptians appear to becoming accustomed to daily street violence, a harbinger of potential for complete disintegration of Egyptian society. Elliott Abrams sees "an Islamist version of the old Mubarak regime"--concerned with security & survival, even to the point of limiting cooperation with Hamas so as to avoid possible internal security headaches.
Israel. Israel remains prepared to take out Syrian lethal weapons again if need be--chemical weapons, ballistic missiles, top-end shore/sea missiles, top-end air defense missiles. Israeli PM Netanyahu sees no prospect of a long-term peace deal with the Palestinians, as genuinely moderate Palestinians have been sidelined--including the leading moderate political leader, lionized in the West, scorned at home, where massively kleptocratic families rule. Bibi's move to expand West Bank settlements, supported by the second-ranking party in January's parliamentary elections, signals that he will not allow President Obama to push him around when they meet in March.
Which, the New York Sun editors opine, Obama surely will attempt to do in March--though SecState Kerry called it an opportunity to listen" (for the president and himself); Kerry's Mideast trip this week will in part focus on Palestinian issues. Elliott Abrams offers sage advice on peace efforts, which, sadly, Team Obama will almost surely ignore.
PM Netanyahu told the Jewish Agency in Israel that Palestinians must accept Israel as a Jewish state & be demilitarized; both are reasonable conditions that the Palestinians, being unreasonable, will reject. They are, the PM said, not preconditions to talks, simply essential parts of the outcome. Yet Netanyahu's own blunder in bringing in super-dovish, politically marginalized Tzipi Livni to begin the assembly of his governing coalition, and giving Livni the Palestinian talks portfolio, can only encourage Kerry & Obama to push Israel into making up-front concessions yet again, with Livni eager to make them. Equally unwise is Israel awarding President Obama the Presidential Medal of Distinction, one of Israel's highest honors. It surely will not alter the president's attitude towards Israel one iota--"O" still stands behind SecDef nominee Chuck Hagel, even as newly revealed coments made by Hagel while still senator come out, e.g., likening Israel's treatment of Palestinians to South African apartheid.
Abrams has published a new book, Tested by Zion: The Bush Administration and the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict (2013). The Syrian episode is one part of his story.
Michael Ledeen sees an Obama Doctrine in foreign affairs:
There is an Obama Doctrine, but hardly anyone wants to acknowledge it. He favors anti-American dictators, and he couldn’t care less what they do to their people. That’s the doctrine that checks out: he favored the Muslim Brotherhood over the pro-American Mubarak; the Libyan insurrectionaries over Gaddafi, who had come to terms with the United States; the Iranian tyrants who crushed a pro-democracy uprising; and Assad (who, whatever Kerry and Hegel have said, is an enemy) against a revolution that at least contained pro-American elements, now suffering from Obama’s betrayal.
Not a pretty picture, that.
Nor is the picture Barry Rubin paints of what the March visit will accomplish: friendly photo-ops masking profoundly foolish US policies:
At the end of the meeting, everyone will then state publicly that the talks show the continued strength of the US-Israel alliance and that Obama is a great president and a wonderful friend of Israel. Then Obama will return to Washington to get back to the business of installing or helping anti-Israel Islamist governments in Egypt, Tunisia, Lebanon, Syria and Turkey; making sure Israel is never too tough against Hamas in the Gaza Strip; and losing credibility with America’s anti-Islamist Arab and other friends.
As for Obama 2.0 personnel--SecState Kerry, SecDef-designate Chuck Hagel & CIA Director-designate John Brennan--Rubin calls it "the problem of terrible ideas meeting terrible incompetence."
Bottom Line. In Egypt, Islamism takes hold while America hibernates. While the stated focus of the president's trip is Iran & Syria, expect that lsrael will face a renewed effort from Team Obama, obsessed with the Palestinians, to shove the Jewish state into making more unilateral tangible concessions upfront. For which in return Israel would get intangible promises, if any, from the Palestinians--in other words, once again trading something for nothing.
Letter from the Capitol, LFTC, National Security, Foreign Policy, Terrorism, WMD, Nuclear Proliferation, Conservative Politics