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For The Record  

FTR #738 Turkish Taffy, Part II

NB: This description contains material not included in the original broadcast itself.

“Heroism breaks its heart, and idealism its back, on the intransigence of
the credulous and the mediocre, manipulated by the cynical and the corrupt.”

Christopher Hitchens

Does THIS look like democracy to you?

Turkish Taffy

Moderation

Listen:
MP3 Side 1 | Side 2

Introduction: The popular candy named  “Turkish Taffy” is a sugary confection. So, too, is the contention advanced in the American popular media that the Turkish Islamism of Mr. Erdogan’s AK Party is moderate. We are told that Erdogan and company would serve as an appropriate role model for the newly emergent Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. This claim is to be seen as artificially sweetened and, ultimately, bad for your health.

That contention of moderation should be taken with a grain of salt.

After recapping connections between the milieu of the AK Party and the postwar fascist international, the broadcast further contrasts the claims of Muslim Brotherhood moderation advanced in The New York Times by Tariq Ramadan and Essiam el-Errian with statements made by the Brotherhood’s founder (and Ramadan’s grandfather) Hassan al-Banna.

As noted in the past, Egypt is devoid of civil society as such, and Christopher Hitchens notes the dim prospects for that unfortunate society.

"Seen any Moderates around here?"

Much of the program takes pause to sample analysis of the results of the recent Egyptian electoral referendum. Forecast by the Financial Times as indicative of a deal between the Egyptian army, the Muslim Brotherhood and the NDP (formerly of Hosni Mubarak). Indeed, AFP, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times saw the referendum as a victory for the Islamists and the Muslim Brotherhood.

As discussed in past programs in the series, it appears the the Brotherhood, with its corporatist, free-market, pro-privatization economic agenda is viewed with favor by the transnationals. Hence the assistance by elements of U.S. intelligence for the Piggy-Back Coup.

Earlier generation of Egyptian moderates

Turning to other uprisings generated by the “Piggy-Back Coup[s]”, the program notes that the displacing of some of the West’s autocrats may well promote al-Qaeda interests in Yemen and  Libya, where the rebels resisting Khadaffy have al-Qaeda links.

Program Highlights Include: review of the Muslim Brotherhood’s alliance with the axis in World War II; review of the Brotherhood’s connections to the GOP, Karl Rove and Grover Norquist; review of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood’s desire to obtain nuclear weapons (all the more significant in light of the Ikhwan’s apparent alliance with the Egyptian Army); indications that al-Qaeda may be on the brink of attacking with a ‘dirty bomb,’ or even a nuke.

1. An article in the Financial Times discussed a referendum, seen as beneficial to Muslim Brotherhood politics in Egypt.

. . . Some analysts and political activists said the Supreme Military Council, whih is ruling the country during a shorttransition, may have decided that an alliance of conservative forces presents a better option for the future than that offered by the young secular groups.

“There are signs the military may have decided to bet on the Brotherhood as the biggest  organized force on the street,” said Hossam Tammam, an analyst who specializes in Islamist groups.

“The others [small parties and secular groups] may be seen by the army as representing an unwanted and radical transition to democracy.”

Shadi al-Gbazali Harb, a member of the coalition of youth groups that led the protests, said he had “strong suspicions that such a mindset might exist. . .

. . . The Brotherhood is the only political group to have been represented on the panel of legal experts handpicked by the military that drafted the constitutional changes.

A range of opposition and legal experts has criticized those amendments as an attempt to “patch up” Mr. Mubarak’s constitution in ways that could threaten democracy and lead to a botched transition.

“There has to be a completely new constitution,” Mr. Harb said. ” We need a constitutent assembly to draft a new constitution and we need a longer transition with parliamentary elections after a year.”

The proposed changes meet some long-standing demands of the opposition such as limiting presidential terms to four years renewable only once (Mr. Mubarak ruled for 30 years) and lifting restrictions that in effect barred independent presidential candidates.

But a new article requires parliament to elect a committee of 100 members to draft a new constitution.

It means, critics say, that forging Egypt’s political system will be in the hands of the Brotherhood and NDP.

Tahani el-Gebali, a senior judge in the constitutional court, describe the article as “catastrophic” and said it threatened the “revolution and the future Egyptians.”

“Constitutional Changes Set to Propel Brotherhood to Power” by Heba Saleh; Financial Times; 3/18/2011; p. 7.

2. Immediate analysis relayed by Agence France Press confirms the above projection concerning the referendum.

Egypt’s first exercise in democracy in decades was hailed as a success on Monday, but the result of a key referendum has raised fears in some quarters that Islamists will hijack looming elections.

Egyptians on Saturday voted 77% in favour of proposed constitutional amendments intended to guide the Arab world’s most populous nation through new presidential and parliamentary elections within six months.

The Muslim Brotherhood threw its huge influence and grassroots organisation behind a “yes” vote, although youth groups that spearheaded the protests that forced Hosni Mubarak to resign last month had called for a “no” vote.

They argued the timetable set by the military was too tight for them to organise at grassroots level, that the Muslim Brotherhood would benefit and that the changes to the Mubarak-era constitution were too limited.

In an editorial, the mass-circulation daily Al-Ahram said the referendum was a “win for democracy,” a view echoed by the state-owned Al-Gomhouria which said: “Everybody has won in this referendum, whether they voted yes or no.”

The Coalition of the Revolution’s Youth urged supporters not to feel defeated after the result, and called on everyone to respect the result of the “historic democratic process” and quickly begin work on the next phase.

“We are now on the doorstep of a new era, in which Egyptians will shape their state for decades to come… we must work to carry on fulfilling the ambitions of the revolution,” the group said on its Facebook page.

But others felt more threatened by the result.

“The referendum, while it was free of fraud, was not free of ‘influence’, especially by the Muslim Brotherhood and the religious trend in general,” wrote Suleiman Gouda in the independent daily Al-Masry Al-Youm. . . .

“Fears Egypt Vote to Benefit Islamists” by Jailan Zayan [AFP];  France 24; 3/21/2011.

3. Analysis by the conservative Wall Street Journal reinforced analysis presented in the AFP story above.

Egyptians’ embrace of a set of proposed constitutional amendments in this weekend’s referendum is the clearest sign yet that leadership of the country’s revolution may be passing from youthful activists to Islamist religious leaders, according to analysts.

More than 70 percent of Egyptians vote yes to constitutional reforms in first free referendum in 30 years. Video and image courtesy of Reuters.

Electoral officials said 77% of Egyptians voted to accept a set of proposed amendments to Egypt’s constitution that will, among other changes, limit the presidency to two four-year terms and ease restrictions on independent political participation, according to results announced Sunday.

The proposed changes were opposed by protest leaders and by presidential front-runners Mohammed El Baradei and Amr Moussa. Both men urged Egyptians to reject the amendments, written by lawyers and judges nominated by Egypt’s military. Protest leaders and opposition politicians instead pushed for an entirely new constitution that would limit expansive presidential powers.

The results from Saturday’s referendum signal a shift in Egypt’s continuing revolution: The protest leaders, once celebrated as heroes and martyrs, are no longer the leading voice in Egypt’s transition to democracy.

In their place are popular religious leaders, whose strong backing of the amendments held sway. These leaders see approval of the amendments as an avenue to political power and a means of preserving the country’s Islamic identity. With their influence in what appeared to be Egypt’s first free and fair election, these political playmakers show how they are positioned to help define Egypt’s democratic future.

The powerful Muslim Brotherhood, a once-illegal Islamist political group, was joined in supporting the amendments by leaders of the Salafi Islamist movement—which follows the ultra-conservative brand of Islam widely practiced in Saudi Arabia—and residual elements of the former ruling National Democratic Party, or NDP.

Opponents of the amendments, which included many in the youth movement, said the Muslim Brotherhood allied with the NDP as part of a cynical power grab: The approval of the amendments has set the stage for parliamentary elections this summer, for which only the Brotherhood and the NDP have the organizational structures to compete. . . .

. . . “This is a nightmare for intellectual Egyptians,” said Nabil Abdel Fattah, a political analyst for the Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, a government-funded think tank based in Cairo.

“All the youth accepted the results of the referendum as a form of democracy. But at the same time, they felt very deceived by the dangerous role the religious groups played against them,” Mr. Abdel Fattah said. “They felt that their revolution is being aborted and there is a huge, huge threat to the unity of the country from using religious campaigns.”

Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church—whose adherents account for about 10% of the country’s 80 million people—came out against the amendments, which they said amounted to an Islamist power-play.

The youth-led campaign against the amendments revealed the limits of the protest leaders’ mass appeal among Egypt’s largely impoverished, under-educated population.

“Egypt Vote Shows Islamist Influence” by Matt Bradley; The Wall Street Journal; 3/22/2011.

4. It would appear that the early electoral results are, indeed, an outgrowth of an apparent alliance between the Brotherhood and [perhaps] the Egyptian army.

. . . In post-revolutionary Egypt, where hope and confusion collide in the daily struggle to build a new nation, religion has emerged as a powerful political force, following an uprising that was based on secular ideals. The Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group once banned by the state, is at the forefront, transformed into a tacit partner with the military government that many fear will thwart fundamental changes.

It is also clear that the young, educated secular activists who initially propelled the nonideological revolution are no longer the driving political force — at least not at the moment.

As the best organized and most extensive opposition movement in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood was expected to have an edge in the contest for influence. But what surprises many is its link to a military that vilified it.

“There is evidence the Brotherhood struck some kind of a deal with the military early on,” said Elijah Zarwan, a senior analyst with the International Crisis Group. “It makes sense if you are the military — you want stability and people off the street. The Brotherhood is one address where you can go to get 100,000 people off the street.”

There is a battle consuming Egypt about the direction of its revolution, and the military council that is now running the country is sending contradictory signals. On Wednesday, the council endorsed a plan to outlaw demonstrations and sit-ins. Then, a few hours later, the public prosecutor announced that the former interior minister and other security officials would be charged in the killings of hundreds during the protests.

Egyptians are searching for signs of clarity in such declarations, hoping to discern the direction of a state led by a secretive military council brought to power by a revolution based on demands for democracy, rule of law and an end to corruption.

“We are all worried,” said Amr Koura, 55, a television producer, reflecting the opinions of the secular minority. “The young people have no control of the revolution anymore. It was evident in the last few weeks when you saw a lot of bearded people taking charge. The youth are gone.” . . .

“Islamist Force Is Rising Force in a New Egypt” by Michael Slackman; The New York Times; 3/24/2011.

5. Christopher Hitchens opined about the prospects for the revolution in Egypt.

. . . . Neither in exile nor in the country itself is there anybody who even faintly resembles a genuine opposition leader. With the partial exception of the obsessively cited Muslim Brotherhood, the vestigial political parties are emaciated hulks. The strongest single force in the state and the society—the army—is a bloated institution heavily invested in the status quo. As was once said of Prussia, Egypt is not a country that has an army, but an army that has a country. More depressing still, even if there existed a competent alternative government, it is near impossible to imagine what its program might be. The population of Egypt contains millions of poorly educated graduates who cannot find useful employment, and tens of millions of laborers and peasants whose life is a subsistence one. I shall never forget, on my first visit to Cairo, seeing “the City of the Dead”: that large population of the homeless and indigent which lives among the graves in one of the city’s sprawling cemeteries. For centuries, Egypt’s rulers have been able to depend on the sheer crushing weight of torpor and inertia to maintain “stability.” I am writing this in the first week of February, and I won’t be surprised if the machine—with or without Mubarak—is able to rely again on this dead hand while the exemplary courage and initiative of the citizens of Tahrir Square slowly ebb away. . . .

“What I Don’t See at the Revolution” by Christopher Hitchens; Vanity Fair; April/2011.

6. The broadcast reviews the “moderate” nature of the Turkish regime, discussed in FTR #737. In addition, the program further highlights the disinformation provided by Tariq Ramadan and Essiam el-Erian in The New York Times.

7. Turning to the subject of the Libyan conflict, the program notes that NATO fighters are helping forces aligned with al-Qaeda.

In an interview with the Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore, Mr al-Hasidi admitted that he had recruited “around 25” men from the Derna area in eastern Libya to fight against coalition troops in Iraq. Some of them, he said, are “today are on the front lines in Adjabiya”.

Mr al-Hasidi insisted his fighters “are patriots and good Muslims, not terrorists,” but added that the “members of al-Qaeda are also good Muslims and are fighting against the invader”.

His revelations came even as Idriss Deby Itno, Chad’s president, said al-Qaeda had managed to pillage military arsenals in the Libyan rebel zone and acquired arms, “including surface-to-air missiles, which were then smuggled into their sanctuaries”.

Mr al-Hasidi admitted he had earlier fought against “the foreign invasion” in Afghanistan, before being “captured in 2002 in Peshwar, in Pakistan”. He was later handed over to the US, and then held in Libya before being released in 2008. . . .

“Libyan Rebel Commander Admits His Fighters Have al-Qaeda Links” by Praveen Swami, Nick Squires and Duncan Gardham; The Telegraph [UK]; 3/25/2011.

8. More on the Libyan fighter/al Qaeda link:

America is now at war to protect a Libyan province that’s been an epicenter of anti-American jihad.

In recent years, at mosques throughout eastern Libya, radical imams have been “urging worshippers to support jihad in Iraq and elsewhere,” according to WikiLeaked cables. More troubling: The city of Derna, east of Benghazi, was a “wellspring” of suicide bombers that targeted U.S. troops in Iraq.

By imposing a no-fly zone over Eastern Libya, the U.S. and its coalition partners have effectively embraced the breakaway republic of Cyrenaica. As you can see on the map above, Libya is a mashup of three historically distinct provinces. As recently as the 1940s, Cyrenaica was an independent emirate, with its capital in Benghazi.

The emnity between Cyrenaica and Tripolitania runs deep. The Emir of Cyrenaica awkwardly cobbled together modern Libya and ruled as its monarch. This is the same king that Qaddafi deposed in his coup of 1969. And the Qaddafi regime has seen the former king’s homeland as a threat ever since, as this Wikileaked cable from our Tripoli embassy explains:

Eastern Libya had suffered … from a lack of investment and government resources, part of a campaign by the al-Qadhafi regime to keep the area poor and, theoretically, less likely to develop as a viable alternative locus of power to Tripoli.

Another cable reports that the disrespect is mutual:

Residents of eastern Libya … view the al-Qadhafa clan [Qaddafi’s tribe] as uneducated, uncouth interlopers from an inconsequential part of the country who have “stolen” the right to rule in Libya.

That’s the background. Flash forward to 2008: A West Point analysis of a cache of al Qaeda records discovered that nearly 20 percent of foreign fighters in Iraq were Libyans, and that on a per-capita basis Libya nearly doubled Saudi Arabia as the top source of foreign fighters.

The word “fighter” here is misleading. For the most part, Libyans didn’t go to Iraq to fight; they went to blow themselves up — along with American G.I.’s. (Among those whose “work” was detailed in the al Qaeda records, 85 percent of the Libyans were listed as suicide bombers.) Overwhelmingly, these militants came “from cities in North‐East Libya, an area long known for Jihadi‐linked militancy.” [UPDATE: West Point’s Combatting Terrorism Center refused to comment on its own report.]

A WikiLeaked cable from 2008 explained that Cyrenaicans were waging jihad against U.S. troops as “a last act of defiance against the Qadhafi regime.” After the U.S. normalized relations with Qaddaffi in 2006, Cyrenacians believed they no longer had any shot at toppling him:

Many easterners feared the U.S. would not allow Qadhafi’s regime to fall and therefore viewed direct confrontation with the GOL [Government of Libya] in the near-term as a fool’s errand…. Fighting against U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq represented a way for frustrated young radicals to strike a blow against both Qadhafi and against his perceived American backers.

The epicenter of Libyan jihadism is the city of Derna — the hometown of more than half of Libya’s foreign fighters, according the West Point analysis. The city of 80,000 has a history of violent resistance to occupying powers — including Americans, who captured the city in the First Barbary War.

A surprisingly readable cable titled “Die Hard in Derna” makes clear that the city “takes great pride” in having sent so many of its sons to kill American soldiers in Iraq, quoting one resident as saying: “It’s jihad — it’s our duty, and you’re talking about people who don’t have much else to be proud of.”

“U.S. Bombs Libya, Helps . . . Jihadists?!”; Rolling Stone; 3/21/2011.

9. In Yemen, the passing of the old order may weaken U.S. counter-terrorism capabilities.

Counterterrorism operations in Yemen have ground to a halt, allowing al-Qaida’s deadliest branch outside of Pakistan to operate more freely inside the country and to increase plotting for possible attacks against Europe and the United States, U.S. diplomats, intelligence analysts and counterterrorism officials say.

In the political tumult surrounding Yemen’s embattled president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, many Yemeni troops have abandoned their posts or have been summoned to the capital, Sanaa, to help support the tottering government, the officials said. Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, the group’s affiliate, has stepped in to fill this power vacuum, and Yemeni security forces have come under increased attacks in recent weeks. . . .

“Unrest in Yemen Is Seen as an Opening to a Branch of al-Qaida” by Eric Schmitt [New York Times]; San Jose Mercury News; 4/4/2011.

10. An interview with Hassan al-Banna gives the lie to the Brotherhood’s claims.

The Moorshid spoke with a pious look on his face, his head
bent slightly to the right, hands folded meekly in his lap. I
disliked him instantly and thoroughly. He was the most loathsome
man I had yet met in Cairo. Gamal sat next to us and
faithfully interpreted.
“The Koran should be Egypt’s constitution, for there is no
law higher than Koranic law,” the Moorshid began. “We seek
to fulfill the lofty, human message of Islam which has brought
happiness and fulfillment to mankind in centuries past. Ours
is the highest ideal, the holiest cause and the purest way.

Those who criticize us have fed from the tables of Europe.
They want to live as Europe has taught them-to dance, to
drink, to revel, to mix the sexes openly and in public.”
I asked his views on establishing the Caliphate, the complete
merger of Church and State-the Moslem equivalent of
religious totalitarianism, as in Spain.
“We want an Arabian United States with a Caliphate at its
head and every Arab state subscribing wholeheartedly to the
laws of the Koran. We must return to the Koran, which
preaches the good life, which forbids us to take bribes, to
cheat, to kill one’s brother. The laws of the Koran are suitable
for all men at all times to the end of the world. This is the day
and this is the time when the world needs Islam most.”
I could not help making a mental note that the word
“Christian” has been similarly used and with similar fanaticism
among Western exponents of authoritarianism.
“We are not eager to have a parliament of the representatives
of the people,” the Supreme Guide continued, “or a
cabinet of ministers, unless such representatives and ministers
are Koranic Moslems. If we do not find them, then we must
ourselves serve as the parliament. Allah and the religious councils
will limit our authority so that no one has to fear dictatorship.
We aim to smash modernism in government and society.
In Palestine our first duty as Moslems is to crush Zionism,
which is Jewish modernism. It is our patriotic duty. The Koran
commands it.”
He was silent, and then nodded, to indicate the interview
was over. And with this Gamal and I took leave of Ikhwan’s
Moorshid and Egypt’s Rasputin.
“What do you think of our Moorshid?” Gamal asked.
“He is a holy man,” I said.

Cairo to Dam­as­cus by John Roy Carl­son; Alfred A. Knopf & Com­pany [HC]; Copy­right 1951 by John Roy Carl­son; pp. 91–92.

11. In conjunction with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood’s stated desire to obtain nuclear weapons, the advent of a WMD 9/11 looms large.

Al Qaeda is attempting to stockpile ‘dirty’ radioactive explosives that could be used to target British troops or for a larger urban attack, it has emerged. New diplomatic documents released by WikiLeaks show that U.S. intelligence personnel have been informed of terrorist attempts to acquire dangerous amounts of uranium and plutonium.

The cables warn of a large trafficking operation of chemical weapons material and threats of a ‘nuclear 9/11’ unless the West intervenes swiftly.Security chiefs briefed a Nato meeting in January 2009 that Al Qaeda was planning a programme of ‘dirty radioactive improvised explosive devices (IEDs)’.

The IEDs could be used against coalition forces in Afghanistan but would also contaminate the surrounding land with nuclear waste for years to come.

In a separate development, the cables quoted in the Telegraph reveal that the FBI is tracking down a team of Qatari men suspected of providing assistance to the 9/11 bombers. U.S. officials were warned by an Indian national security adviser that terrorist organisations now ‘have the technical competence to manufacture an explosive device beyond a mere dirty bomb’.British officials have also expressed fears of covert weapons development in Pakistan.

A leaked document regarding official defence discussions in 2009 highlighted ‘deep concerns’ that a rogue scientist could ‘gradually smuggle enough material’ out of the Pakistani nuclear programme to construct a weapon.
Documents sent to Washington from foreign U.S. embassies also reveal the growth of nuclear smuggling rings, with radioactive materials trafficked across Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

The cables viewed by the Telegraph explain how customs guards deploy specially-designed radiation alarms to try and hamper attempts to smuggle volatile materials.

Border officials found weapons-grade nuclear substances concealed on a freight train crossing the Kazkahstan-Russia border while a ‘small-time’ black market dealer in Lisbon attempted to sell radioactive plates stolen from Chernobyl.

“World ‘on Brink of Nuclear 9/11’ as Al Qaeda Plans Large ‘Dirty Bomb’ “; Mail Online; 2/11/2011.


Discussion

One comment for “FTR #738 Turkish Taffy, Part II”

  1. […] FTR #738 […]

    Posted by Addendum on the piggy-back coups in the Middle East: the Turking Taffy series | lys-dor.com | April 19, 2011, 10:09 pm

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