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Total number of comments: 33 (since 2013-11-28 15:54:41)


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  • Defying Turkey, US airdrops arms to Kobane Kurds
    • There is more to the story, with the announcement that Erdogan would assist Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga get into Syria, though still stopping PYD/PKK forces. Also Erdogan, in responding angrily to t he US proposals for aiding Kobane, used a curious turn of phrase, chastising the US for "talking about this openly" and then expecting Turkey to agree. After Erdogan's Sunday conversation with Obama, he repeated his standard position about his target being the Assad regime while the WH said that the to leaders AGREED to work together against ISIL. What are we to make of al this?

  • The Alamo of the Kurds: Kobane Near Falling to ISIL
    • I guess it is silly to ask where the famed "Peshmerga" are in all this. I seem to recall that the Syrian Kurdish PYD came to their aid against ISIL in Iraq and also saved the Ezidis. OK, Barzani doesn't like Salih Muslim and his group because he can't control them, but allowing a massacre?

  • Turkish Women Have Last Laugh on Twitter, Reject Gov't Puritanism
    • Last year, another AK Parti official declared that was improper for women in the last months of pregnancy to walk in the streets. If they wish to leave the house, they should wait for their husbands to come home and then drive them around in the evening if they want to go out. This official seemed to think that all women had the luxury of not having to work, to have a family car and have no errands, shopping, etc. I wonder what he thought about women who have to work in the fields or scrub floors in someone else's house to feed her family.

  • The Debacle of the Caliphates: Why al-Baghdadi's Grandiosity doesn't Matter
    • Just as a footnote: It was Ottoman Sultan Selim I, father of Suleiman the Magnificent, who brought the title Caliph back as a souvenir of his conquest of Egypt. As you correctly noted, the use of the title was highly selective over the centuries. "Back in the day," Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror added the title Qaisar-i-Rum to his list. To make the point clear, he had a coin minted with the title Emperor of Rome in Latin along with his name Mehmet II. That one too eventually ended up engraved along with all the other titles belonging to the Sultan. Mehmet sometimes claimed in front of Europeans that he actually had Byzantine blood due to the earlier marriages between Ottoman sultans and Byz brides. In reality, only one such marriage is known to have produced a child and he did not become sultan. Made a good story, though.

  • Turkish state fund seizes assets of CHP Istanbul candidate Mustafa Sarıgül
    • This was a very strategic assault. With the current AKP mayor discredited over the deals that led to Gezi Park, the popular Sarigul had/has a very good chance of taking the Istanbul slot, once held by Erdogan, from the AKP. A loss of the key local position to CHP would be a warning about possible national level defeats.

  • Photo of the Day: Was St. Nicholas "White"?
    • Santa Claus

      Ignorance knows no bounds! Secular Muslim Turks happily claim ole Saint Nick as their own; he returns the favor by promoting Christmas/New Years as party and gift-giving time, decorated trees included. Meanwhile, the terms White Turk and Black Turk are used to refer to both a geo-ethnic and a religio-cultural divide between those secular elites of Western Turkey and the more conservative and pious central and eastern Anatolians who form the core supporters of the ruling AK Parti. To add to the story, a Turkish geneticist recently outraged many Turks, especially the nation’s uber nationalists by asserting that the Turkish people do not constitute “a race.” Actually, he was not singling out Turks except by way of example, but commenting all ethnic groups that claim a “racial affinity.” He argued that race is a cultural, not a scientific concept as is its consequence, racism. All this, of course, would be far too difficult for Ms Kelly to fathom.

  • Egypt's Coptic Christians Protest Killing by Fundamentalists of 4 at Church
    • The victimes of the tragedy were both Christians and Muslims, the latter having come to celebrate the wedding of a neighbor's daughter. They were all sprayed with gunfire as they waited to enter the Church grounds. At the funeral for the Christian dead a Muslim girl stood on a chair holding a cross in one hand and a Qauran in the other.

      More than one TV comentator reminded the audience that prominent Muslim Brotherhood figures such as Mohamed Beltagui and Safwat Higazy had made anti-Christian statements or threats in the course of Morsi's eyar in office, with the president taking no corrective measures. They warned Christians not to sabotage the referendum in favor of their constitution and were reported to have prevented Christians from voting in some places. During the anti-Morsi protests at the Presidential Palace, Beltagui and Higazy were at it again, this time claiming that 70% of the demonstrators were Copts. As anti-Christian incidents mounted, Morsi made no attempt to show concern or address their security concerns. However, the lack of preparation to protect Christians and their property following the clear out of Rabaa and Nahda is even more shameful.

  • Militant Secularism in the Middle East?
    • The MB is a part of the "old politics" of Egypt and their chance to rule in the manner of their predecessors simply came to late. No one was looking for the NDP with beards. The "secular" youth" and the labor unions are more closely attuned to the goals of the 25 January Revolution that the MB didn't seem to care about. However, unless they can find a way to "get out from under" the military and the rest of the old order, they are condemned to repeat the scenario of "uprising followed by reassertion of the deep state under a new guise."

      It will probably take a lot of blood to get out from under, if and when it happens. Right now, the youth and their allies lack the organizational capacity and fervor alone won't change the system from the bottom up. The MB is SO 20th century!

  • Has Military Suppression of Political Islam ever Worked?
    • The NSF spokesperson, Khalid Daoud, resigned a few days ago. He had come into the movement as a follower of Baradaei.

    • THIS IS NOT JUST THE MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD: Salifiyya-jihadiyya and other jihadis are openly involved. Take a look at the dudes with RPGs who slaughteed the policemen in Kerdassa! Various parties have been shipping in serious weaponry for months.
      PARENTS AND RELIGIOUS COMMITMENTS: Remember, Stalin's daughter was raised aChristian right under her father's nose. With Russia's change, top leaders like Putin eagerly admitted that they too were raised in the faith.
      MORSI'S OUSTER WAS INEVITABLE, THIS MASSACRE WAS NOT: With one ill-considered move after another and the economy, it was obvious that theree would be an intervention. No way this would or could go on for three more years. Egyptians gave him til the end of the year....if that. His call for young Egyptians to go to jihad in Syria to fight the kufar and that he was sending the army over there too was the end. But the massacre may just be the undoing of the magical spell of the army.

  • The Rebellion Movement Denounces Mansour's Constitutional Principles as Dictatorial
    • It is far more than a mild dust-up because the interim President was supposed to have done all this extensive consulting with stakeholds, not just in the parties, but with the revolutionary youth BEFORE announcing anything. The consensus-building meetings that took place right after Morsi's departure faded away as the military and their judicial allies started making decisions all by themselves with only SELECTIVE consultations. As a result, they have had to, a la Morsi, walk back "decisions." Even if, once again, the generals and their state peers think they can tell "the people" to sit down and be quiet while they deciding, they won't be able to get away with it any more than Morsi did. 25 January 2011 changed all that! The streets and the people are still around and ready to remind their masters what the goals of said revolution were.

    • REBELLION is needed now more than ever and needs to remind the senior citizens that this movement, like 25 Janurary is a revolution against the policies as well as dictatorship of Mubarak and others sharing his neo-liberal philosophy. They need to remind the interim government that they MUST put the demands of Tahrir [ayesh, hurriyya, 'adala ijtimaiyya and karaama insaniyya]as their mission. Instead, it seems the so-called "liberal" old guard seems to be as deaf as its predecessors about what caused the uprising.

      I was dismayed, but not surprised, that this new economy-oriented government is putting IMF demands as priorities, in other words, yet more pain for the Egyptians that have allowed them to emerge. Just look at this attitude:

      "Of course, we respect the public opinion and we try to comply with the expectation of the people but there is always a time of choice. There is more than one alternative, you cannot satisfy all of the people."

      This may or may not have been a military coup but it is sure looking like a neo-liberal "felloul" coup hiding behind geriatric "liberals." Someone on Egyptian TV the other night noted that this interim government is absolutely the wrong age set for running today's Egypt; the OLDEST member of the 1952 government was 43!

  • Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood Calls for 'Uprising' as Plan for Elections is Announced
    • JUST ANNOUNCED: INTERIM PM IS ECONOMIST HAZEM BEBLAWY, another internationally known figure.

    • Al Nour Party simultaneously announced that it had withdrawn from the negotiations over the new government due to the massacres and rejected Bahaeddin's nomination for PM. They seem encouraging on the latest proposal: economic Samir Radwan, who is well known and respected internationally.

      Egyptian TV stations, private and government have been running continuoulsy video have the confrontation sites that show armed, hooded men, shooting at police and soldiers and whoever else. Other reports claim MB protestors stabbed in the back by individuals in their own crowd who then run away. The government has committed itself to a transparent investigation as demanded by one and all. Human rights organizations and the Shaikh al Azhar have called on the government to reopen the Salafi TV stations. HR orgs have ascertained that the MB charge that women and children were among the victims was untrue.

      While there is a call to release all political prisoners [those from 2011 onward have still not been released] no HR or defense group can identify MB members/followers who are not detained for interrogation for suspicion related to specific crimes such as: weapons, incitement to violence [based on televised exhortations], or involvement in the 2011 prison break in which people were killed and Hamas/Hezbollah got thier guys out as well as the MB and then went back to Gaza. Evidence was strong enough last month for a court in Port Said to determine they had a good case and presented it to the prosecutor general. Others were quickly released.

      THUS FAR those individuals and organizations that have traditionally dedicated to human rights and legal issues have been just as active in the case of the MB and there is a pressure on this interim government for transparency.

  • Egypt: One Soldier Dead, 3 Wounded, as Muslim Brotherhood Clashes with Army, Secularists in Provinces
    • Yes, it is 'Askar and he is a real PR professional, getting popular support. Hope the military appreciate him.

    • General Askar or "Azmy"? This guy was super-popular with the people in the Canal provinces, including 'umra for the parents of martyrs.

  • Egypt's Countdown to Meltdown: Morsi Refuses to Deal
    • This position by Morsi is a retrenchment from the more conciliatory statements he made before in which he said he was ready to explore various options, including amending the constitution, if the opposition would only come to the table. He should really call around and find out which of the MB bigwigs are still around. The Hazemoun's Sh Hazem is out of the country for "medical treatment" and his no.2 sits in jail on charges related to a murder committed by his son. There is currently a "no travel" ban on some of the MB figures and yesterday there were rumors that Khairat El Shater skipped town...[maybe to Gaza, I wonder?]

      As has been his habit since even before taking office, he has refused to counter or condemn the spin that his followers are in a fight for Islam against apostates and more recently, the explicit calls for violence among his supporters. [A taste of what they have been saying is part of Bassam Yusuf's Albernameg...the first tranche of which surprisingly had English subtitles.]

  • Taksim Square Protests in Turkey Spread to other Cities, Police accused of Brutality
    • Why the defensiveness toward criticism of aspects of AKPolicy and of Erdogan's sultanic arrogance? There is no doubt that the last years have seen dramatic improvements in many, many aspects of politics and economics, but that doesn't excuse the grave mistakes.

      Like the MB "magnates" like Khairat El Shater, the AK big business types represent the worst combination of piety and greed, charity and disregard for the rights of poorer citizens. [El shater has been spending considerable time recently in Turkey with both the political types and business community.] Just as the MB is in league with those in Cairo who would tear down 'ashwaiyat on "prime" downtown land to build housing for the priveleged, the AK bosses are doing likewise to Turkey's cities.

      Is it a coincidence that the police and military seem to be at odds about how to handle what is happening now? or some obviously sympathizing wiht the demonstrators as well the waiters from the big hotels helping them, or that Turkey's own "ultras" have joined the fray? Like in Egypt, it is all blamed on certain forces, not popular anger. Like in Egypt, though not as dramatically, Turkey is feeling the cumulative effects of unrestrained neo-liberalism and crony capitalism, mixed with self-righteous morality.

      Anyone who wished/wishes the Turkish experiment to succeed must hope that some modesty and reality be injected into the system, and now. The good news is that this is likely to end Erdogan's hopes to stay on til 2024. It also means that Abdullah Gul and others may have a chance to put it all back on track. According to one commentator today, if the mess continues for 40 days, the President has the option of asking the PM to step down. I wonder if that is accurate.

    • Juan,

      Sadly two people have already been permanently blinded from the tear gas canisters. You are right that between authoritarian Kemalists and their AKP counterparts, the liberally-minded are definitely a minority. How much the current [and previous] encounters are a result of AKP policies or how much is a function of Erdogan's personal style, they do remain troubling to those hoping for a wider space for thinking outside of the two worldviews.

      It does concern many people who had been supporting the AKP that Erdogan seeks to change the system of government to "stay on" while having yet more power. The Gulenists are among the elements who have voiced concern about the anti-democratic PM and the clique around him. One fear how is that he is making a devil's bargain with the Kurdish party..their votes on the change to a presidential system in exchange for providing the reforms needed to bring closure to the "Kurdish problem."

      As for the trees, part of the issue is the lying...denying the plans for Taksim and saying they are just building a little pathway. It is seen by those interested in the preservation of the area as one more blow to the areas history, following buildings ripped out for gaudy new stores. It goes with his other grandious building projects that blight/will blight the city and banish yet more lower income citizens to the peripheries.

      This is the PM who "ordered" the city of Kars to tear down a prize-winning statue symbolizing Armenian-Turkish relations, tried everything in his power for the last three years to get courts to shut down the most popular soap opera, [did get it off Turkish Airways], and endless other personal whims.

      For those of us who praise the accomplishments of the AKParty over the last decade, it would be wrong to ignore their mistakes or failures as well. The reasons that brought more than just environmentalists or Kemalists to Taksim and elsewhere to protest are myriad. They deserve to be heard. If the government continues to accuse and insult them, cumulative frustration over everything from low wages, limitations on labor organizing and unemployment could easily be woven into the story, hardly a way to diffuse the situation.

  • Egypt: " Muslim Brotherhood Seeking Revenge on the Judges" - Moussa
    • Juan, You are quite right about all this. Luckily though, for the Egyptian judiciary, there has been somewhat of a reprieve after the MB's "purge" demonstration and the predictable counter-protest led to one more violent confrontation. The regime is likely getting bad vibes from the donor community, however subtle and the MB has been concerned about the judges threat to take the issue to an international court of some sort. So they won't least not yet... the 3,000+ scalps they had hoped to take by changing the retirement former SGuide Mehdi Akef claimed [and quickly denied saying]was their goal.

      Once again, at least temporarily, Morsi has had to backtrack on an ill-conceived policy, likely born in Moqattam. However, despite his announcement that this would be delt with via a conference, the Shura Council is going forward with its drafting of a bill on the subject.

      The defections related to this attempted power grab have been an embarassment as well: the MB Minister of Justice, Judge Ahmed Mekki, resigned [following his brother who left his position as a judicial advisor some time back] and now Morsi's outspoken, relatively young legal advisor, who did not go quietly, but reveal his disgust for the incompetence and other sins of the current government and the MB.

      Morsi is now supposed to sit down with his experts and with the leading judges in a conference to work towards a consensual law regarding judicial matters. We'll see.

      You are quite right about the judges, they are a mixed lot and the MB forgets that the "reformists" among them, to include the brothers Mekki, stood up to Mubarak over the 2005 elections and many illegal Mubarak moves. Many of their decisions did, in fact, benefit the MB.

      The MB criticizes the judges for the light sentences or dismissal of the cases of those who committed economic or other crimes against the country. However, the judges point out that they can only work with the case that the prosecutors present and in most cases that has been thin gruel, leading many to believe that the MB has cut a deal with the felloul, so that they can "do business" which is the priority of the El Shater wing [the most powerful] within the organization.

      While the MB has moved ahead quickly with the Brotherhoodization of government agencies, they have had little luck with two of the three most independent parts of the "deep state", the military, security-intelligence, and the most vulnerable of the three, the judiciary. I would not be surprised if the Minister of Defense did not warn them they may be going too far.

      The charge against the MB that secular and Islamist parties make is that all other horrors aside, the MB-led government is simply incompetent and has presented no vision for moving the country forward, concentrating instead on their own goals. This, the critics say, has led them to appoint people who are loyal, rather than competent, to deal with very important matters.

  • Egypt's War on Satire: Prosecutor Summons Cairo's Jon Stewart
    • Question: Does anyone know of an Arabic equivalent for the term "killjoy"?

      Scholars note that authoritarian/totalitarian groups, regardless of ideology, see joy and fun as seditious. They lose the control they insist on having. This is what makes the most innocent school outings, when boys and girls are all in the same bus singing and going off on a picnic, one of the first things that Islamists object to. It's why jazz was so challenging to the Soviets.

  • Muslim Opposition to the Muslim Religious Right Grows, from Egypt to Bangladesh
    • I believe that Abdel Moneim Abouel Futouh founded his own party, Strong Egypt and is not a member of al-Wasat.

      Many Salafis, though they disagree with his platform, prefer him to the wiley MB.

      In listening to a fair amount of Salafi discourse over the past year, I am struck by the way that they have incorporated nationalist rhetoric into the presentations. How much of this is real, how much of this is to pass muster with more mainstream Egyptians and how much of it is evolution as was their acceptance of electoral politics I don't know.

  • Syrian Revolution Darkens Further, with Damascus Bombings and Hizbullah Involvement
    • Some time ago, the Syriac community formed its own militia, mainly to protect its members from harm by anyone. Many have moved to Turkey but most to the Europe and the US. I was startled last year to read about opposition signs in one demonstration that were written in Arabic, Kurdish and Syriac.

  • The Rise of the Sunnis and the Decline of Iran, Iraq and Hizbullah: The Middle East in 2013
    • Questions about the African countries on the map:

      Why is Djibouti, an Arab League and OIC member country with an overwhelmingly Sunni country made up of ethnic Afar and Somalis and easily pressured by the Gulf states and Saudi Arabia not colored in yellow?

      Why is Eritrea, with a "non-Muslim" tyrannical regime passing for a "government," designated as "Sunni Muslim" according to the yellow color when it belongs to neither the Arab League nor the OIC?

      Why is northern Sudan, with an overwhelmingly Sunni population, colored in blue, indicating being "pro-Iranian" when its politics are far more complicated? Yes, they have been "trans-shipping" arms from Iran to Hamas and perhaps beyond that in exchange for political and other support, but it also has ties with Egypt, especially the MB, the Gulf and Saudi and others in the Arab and Muslim world.

  • New Fundamentalist Constitution Approved, Heralds turn to Egyptian Theocracy
    • Salafi Dawa'a Shaikh Yasser Borhamy bragged to fellow Salafis on a program on one of their own TV channels about how during the constitutent assembly sessions he snookered the Azhar, the Christians and secularists to get the phrasing that allows for limiting freedoms, especially with regard to the press. This is the same guy who lied about visiting candidate Ahmed Shafiq in his house and who sought to have no minimum age for girls to marry.

      In explaining the new taxes that will come into effect in two weeks, postponed from just before the referendum, the government explained how none of them will affect the poor! I guess that they have decided for people that they will stop smoking.

      When the government announced its early-to-bed order that was also "postponed" it made clear that exemptions would be obtained by facilities catering to tourists [or the upper classes]i.e., by any owner who could afford the new license. The government, with a tanking economy, realizes that it cannot afford to tamper with the tourist industry, which, together with its support industries employes between 1/6 to 1/4 of Egyptian workers. They also understand that domestic tourism is not insignificant either.

      It won't be easy convincing the Salafis to lay off, however, as they have already attacked downtown coffee shops that don't even sell liquor. The MB's uneasy relationship with those guys is more likely to get worse rather than better.

  • The Coming Conflict between the US and Israel (Chernus)
    • For this plan to work, Obama needs to mix into the rhetoric about always being ready to protect Israel from any threat to its existence with a] a reminder of all he has done for them, especially in terms of equipment and training under his watch and b] START WEAVING INTO THE RHETORIC the fact that thanks to our help so far, Israel is the STRONGEST and faces no existential threats. It has the ability to fight off all surrounding countries at once; c] depending on the reception of this message at first, in a while, start throwing in our fear of Israel's growing international isolation due to the "perception" that it is not doing enough to renew peace talks.

  • Will Egyptian Left & Liberals Urge a "No" vote on Constitution or Boycott?
    • Yesterday, Salafi firebrand Safwat el Higazy took to the Islamist podium in front of the Presidential Palace and "warned" Egypt's Christians over voting "no or abstaining" The Islamists reminded the mainly Coptic group of [what they believe] was an overwhelming vote for "felloul" candidate Ahmed Shafiq. "We'll know" he said, because of the size [over 8 million people]of the community. This may or may not be a big deal in the larger cities, but in provincial towns and rural villages, it might not be an empty threat.

      As for the rest of the Salafis, you are quite right that they are not unified. Those that took the step of setting up a political party have obviously squared themselves with electoral least for now.

      It is not clear which Salafis participated in the viscious attacks on marchers in what seemed to be action coordinated with the MB. Interestingly, the leading Salafi "Nour" party made the decision to stay out of the street action and they've held to it.

      Certainly NOT reticent about taking to the streets is one-time wannabe but disqualified candidate for president Sh Hazem Salah Abu Ismail and his Salafi troops are settling in for a long protest outside the Media City in 6 October. The are demanding that the broadcasters on private stations who fill the airways with "lies" about them must be fired and certain journalists mentioned by name must be punished.

  • The Green-Khaki Alliance: Morsi Deploys the Military for Referendum

      The young revolutionaries are also alienated from the Salvation Front that they say is too riddled with felloul. The April group and others are just doing their own thing. THEY certainly have no grassroots efforts, but one would assume that the Sha'abi Front of Hamdeen Sabbahi does, considering how well he did in the elections. He is the only real politician among all the Salvation guys and one with a partially non-elite following.

      Which raises the question: In the 'ashwaiyyat and labor strongholds, what is the struggle like between the presumably equally familiar Salafis and MB on the one hand and the labor organizers on the other? With the 10 pm curview endangering the livelihoods of thousands, and the potential subsidy cuts, new crusade against street vendors, not to mention that proposed taxes, the Morsi government can't be very popular. So what is going on there? Like the US, citizens going against their economic interests or a time gap before it all sinks in?

      It seems that like US progressives, Egypt's leftists don't want to use the very powerful jargon of reliigon to unmask their Brothers and Salafis. Social Justice, Freedom and Bread are certainly more Islamic values than neo-liberalism, and are closer to the models laid out by the Prophet and Sahaba. MB/Salafi violence and killing, calling those you disagree with Kuffar, etc are all against ISLAMIC PRINCIPLES. Beards don't make you pious.

  • Top Ten Wish List Progressives should Press on President Obama
    • Obama is a second term president. He should treat the Republicans with the same disrespect and enmity that they have shown. Unless he is obtuse, he should have figured out right now that he won't get any more from trying to reason with the Republicans than he did the first time around. WAKE UP! He also has to use his bully pulpit to put one notion forward, that the social safety net, spending on education, scientific research, infrastructure and health care are all part of our real national security challenge...competitiveness. We can't blame other countries for being successful. This turns it all into a question of who is the patriot, supporting the intersts of the future sustainability of the country, versus the short term benefit of the few. If you trade these needs for more arms you will have nothing to defend. You can no longer force people to buy our products rather than those of more efficient industries.

      Of course, the alternative is to go down in histor as an unremarkable and disappointing leader at a time when we needed a hero the most. He needs to talk OVER the heads of pols in both parties and directly to the American people. That is if/if he is willing to buck his donors, his party elders, and access the power of the people. It is not complicated, there are interests and interests and in a few simple sentences, he or anyone else can explain which policies are wins for the people and which are wins for special groups. Call it class conflict or anthing else, it is sectoral conflict, one group of Americans against everyone else. Failure will make the term "The New American Century" a cruel joke.

      "If we want to stay competitive, here is what we must do." That's it.

  • Romney Jumps the Shark: Libya, Egypt and the Butterfly Effect
    • HOWARD BASKERVILLE: Juan, I'm sure you will appreciate this. I can't help but relate Chris Stevens to another young, talented and idealistic American who genuinely wanted to help revolutionaries, in his case, in Iran. Just out of Divinity School, he died for the cause of freedom. The other Americans, many at the US Consulate in Tabriz, were also recognized as openly supportive of the uprising. This memory of Americans living by their values was once a part of Iranian history. Appreciative Iranians at the time had a special carpet made commemorating his role and had it sent to his mother. Do you know if anyone in recalls this now? Chris Stevens may just have revived this alternative image of Americans abroad, albeit in Libya.

  • Syria and the New Great Divide in the Greater Middle East
    • Turkey most certianly did not invite this mess when they sought to give Bashar advice, open their borders to refugees, or confer with NATO about solutions. They did not need another point of friction in relations with Iran or the Maliki government in Iraq. More than anything else, they did not need another front in the conflict with the PKK or the possibilty of a Saudi/Qatari backed reactionary state on their southern borders. Finally, they did not need complications to the various pipeline dreams being explored in the region.

    • This is even more complicated when you factor in the Kurds! The KRG-KNC-Ankara axis vs Assad Regime-PKK-PYD. KRG training KNC refugees as peshmerga to protect their communities after the war is over, KRG Peshmerga blocking Iraqi national army from approaching border near them.
      Ankara nervousness about Gulf sponsored Wahhabis and/or Jihadis in the neighborhood. Turkish jihadi, brother of one of the Istanbul synagogue attackers, killed in northern Syria. Armenia thinking to possibly settle Syrian Armenian refugees in Ngorno Karabagh; 8,000 Syrian Abkhaz trying to get to their ancestral homeland with little help from either the Georgian government or the Abkhaz authorities. Syrian Turkmen and Arabs fighting in the Turkish refugee camp. Sectarian conflict among the Syrian Turkmen. Circassians confused.

  • The Arab World's Fourths of July
    • As I look at the results of the Egyptian Presidential elections, I cannot see it as a gereat victor for the Islamists. Morsi got about 24% of the vote in the first round, just about what analysts have considered to be the support the MB has in Egypt for several decades. More important still, is that 75% of the voters rejected them, including the felloul, of curse, but also the revolutionary forces representing about 50% of the vote. If the court had canceled Shafiq's bid, Morsi would have faced the likes of Hamdeen Sabbahi, who along garnered 22+% in the first round. Likewise, if one or more of the liberal/left candidates dropped out and endorsed Sabbahi, he would have faced off against Morsi and my guess is that he would have won. That would have posed serious problems for the military, who fear a shake up in the social order, something a leftists, but not a Brother would promote.

      The Parliamentary elections were also a give away. with the NDP dissolved and thus with no candidate lists, the only recognizable forces at the grassroots level were the until then apolitical MB and Salafi charity groups, making their win a giveaway.

      I think the revolutionary forces have it right....get ready for the 2016 elections. They need the time to establish a grassroots presence.

      In the meantime, Morsi is in an impossible position, given SCAF control. It is unlikely that he will be able to make good on any promise, through no fault of his own. At the same time, the Salafis have embarassed the Islamist movement with their efforts to restore FGM and marriage at age 12. The recent series of violent crimes, enforcing a certain notion of Islam, but groups variously described as Takfiris, Mutawa'een, etc., have also disgusted ordinary pious Egyptians. They are unlikely to distinguish between one group of guys with long beards and short dishdashas and another.

      I just don't see a swing to the Islamists, especially to the MB which has a reputation for opportunism and failure to fulfill promises. It should be sobering for them that in that great Parliamentary win, their 80 year old organization garnered not that much more than the much newer Salafis. I continue to be struck by the attitudes of ordinary Egyptians interviewed by various TV stations in Arabic about the Islamists, much of which centers around the fact that they are already Muslims and don't need any politicians teaching them about Islam.

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