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What's Happening in Egypt Now?

Feb. 28….(Israel Today) Most of the international community, and certainly the mainstream international press, has moved on from Egypt and its 18-day uprising that lead to the downfall of former President Hosni Mubarak and his dictatorial regime. The new story on everyone’s lips is Libya, where the masses are fighting, and dying, to similarly remove Col. Muammar Gaddafi. But what is happening now in Egypt? The sudden removal of Mubarak cannot be the end of the story, and with the future of such a significant regional power hanging in the balance, what happens in the weeks and months after is far more important than the president’s resignation. Amazingly, while the Western intelligentsia spent the two weeks leading up to Mubarak’s departure alternatively insisting that the Muslim Brotherhood was either not a threat or too small to worry about, almost no one covered the February 18 return to Egypt of Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Yusuf al-Qaradawi as the major event it was. Qaradawi was exiled from Egypt decades ago by Mubarak, and was also banned from entering the US and Britain for his radical views and teachings. But that didn’t stop the cleric. Instead, he was given a spot on Al Jazeera, where his show “Sharia and Life” quickly became the top rated program on the Middle East network. When he stepped into Cario’s now-famed Tahrir Square this month, it was to a hero’s welcome by the estimated two million Egyptians that came to hear him. During his speech, Qaradawi advised those who had toppled Mubarak that “the revolution is not finished,” and insisted that democracy in Egypt must be along Islamic, not Western lines.

    The Muslim Brotherhood’s platform officially states that Egypt’s government must be “republican, parliamentary, constitutional and democratic in accordance with Islamic Sharia law.” During the Tahrir Square event, Qaradawi’s bodyguards prevented Google executive Wael Ghonem from coming on stage and addressing the crowds. The Western media had tried to make Ghonem, who was a major player in the opening days of the uprising, as the “new face” of the Egyptian street - educated, moderate and Western. Prof. William Jacobson of the Cornell Law School aptly noted that the event signified that “the yuppie revolution in Egypt is over, the Islamist revolution has begun.” Jacobson accurately explained that Ghonem never was the face of the Arab street in Egypt, “he merely was a face to which Western media could relate.”

    The real face of the street in Egypt is Islam, and that is why just as many people who turned out to demand Mubarak go home also came out to hear Qaradawi. Some in the mainstream media are still trying to whitewash Qaradawi and the Muslim Brotherhood. But the cleric’s long history of poisonous decrees against Israel, calling for attacks on Americans in Iraq, and general hatred for all infidels speaks for itself. For example, when asked a few years ago about interfaith dialogue between Muslims and Jews, Qaradawi said: “There is no dialogue between us except by the sword and rifle. We pray to Allah to take this oppressive Jewish, Zionist band of people…do not spare a single one of them…count their numbers and kill them down to the very last one.” Despite cleverly wording his public speeches in a way that allows the likes of the New York Times to paint him as a “moderate,” Qaradawi remains dedicated to the Muslim Brotherhood’s stated goal of imposing Sharia Law with the goal of eventually establishing an Islamic empire. What’s more concerning is that Qaradawi is far from being a fringe figure. Shadi Hamid, research director at the Brookings Institute’s Doha Center in Qatar, confirmed in an interview with the Christian Science Monitor what should have been clear from Qaradawi’s reception in Cairo earlier this month: “Qaradawi is very much in the mainstream of Egyptian society, he’s in the religious mainstream, he’s not offering something that’s particularly distinctive or radical in the context of Egypt.”

    It should also be noted that if free elections are held in Egypt, there are very real indicators that the Muslim Brotherhood’s newly formed political party, the Freedom and Justice Party, will sweep them by a large margin. In Egypt’s most recent parliamentary election, Mubarak’s party and allies won 80 percent of the vote thanks to heavy rigging of the system. But despite having the deck stacked against them, the Muslim Brotherhood still managed to win 20 percent of the seats in parliament. Imagine what the group could do in free elections without a strong or recognized “liberal” opponent.



Anti-Gaddafi Rebels Take Over City Closest to Tripoli

Feb. 28….(Jerusalem Post) Armed men opposed to the rule of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi are in control of the city of Zawiyah, about 30 miles west of the capital Tripoli, a Reuters reporter in the town said. The red, green and black flag of Libya's anti-Gaddafi rebellion was flying from a building in the centre of the town and a crowd of several hundred people was chanting "This is our revolution," the reporter said. Also on Sunday, the British government revoked the diplomatic immunity in the UK of Gaddafi and his sons, Foreign Secretary William Hague said, urging Gaddafi to step down. "Of course it is time for Col. Gaddafi to go," Hague said in a BBC interview. "That is the best hope for Libya and last night I signed a directive revoking his diplomatic immunity in the United Kingdom, but also the diplomatic immunity of his sons, his family, his household, so it's very clear where we stand on his status as a head of state," he said. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said on Sunday that nearly 100,000 people have fled violence in Libya in the past week, streaming into Tunisia and Egypt in a growing humanitarian crisis.



Quadaffi Defiant as UN Security Council Clamps Down

(US Calls for Qaddafi to leave)


Feb. 28….(Fox News) The Obama administration will offer "any type of assistance" Libyans seeking to oust Muammar al-Qaddafi need, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Sunday before jetting off to Geneva for talks with diplomats about establishing a unified front against the dictator. Clinton did not discuss military assistance, but added that African nations must not let mercenaries go to the aid of the Qaddafi clan. "You must stop mercenaries, you must stop those who may be going to Libya either at the behest or opportunistically to engage in violence or other criminal acts," she said. Meanwhile, Qaddafi's sons are vowing to stay in Libya until the bitter end, saying Sunday that reports of widespread violence are overblown even as the UN Security Council moves against the strong-arm dictator and his family. Sayf and Saadi Qaddafi denied any suggestion there is a crisis that could topple their father's regime. "You're hearing rumors, false reports," Sayf Qaddafi said on ABC's "This Week." "There's a big gap between reality and the media reports. The whole south is calm. The west is calm. The middle is calm. Even part of the east." Saadi Qaddafi said if his father left it would only take one hour for the country to devolve into civil war. "Nobody is leaving this country. We live here. We will die here," Sayf Qaddafi said. Saadi and Sayf Qaddafi are two of the dictator's five children targeted in a five-part UN Security Council resolution on Saturday. Qaddafi and 10 of his top associates were named in the resolution aimed at putting the squeeze on the Libyan strongman facing massive protests at home. The resolution, which won the support of veto power-wielding China at the end of a long day, includes a travel ban and an asset freeze for key Libyan leaders. It imposes a complete arms embargo on Libya. It also calls a ban on states to provide transit to Libya of mercenaries, encourages cargo inspections by states transporting goods there and provides for states to offer support for humanitarian assistance and agencies. Security Council members did not consider imposing a no-fly zone over Libya, and no UN-sanctioned military action was planned. NATO also has ruled out any intervention in Libya. The UN General Assembly plans to vote Tuesday on whether to suspend Libya from the UN Human Rights Council. It takes a two-thirds vote of member states present in the General Assembly to adopt such a measure. The resolution also refers Qaddafi to the International Criminal Court for prosecution for crimes committed against the Libya people after protests began Feb. 15. Susan Rice, US ambassador to the UN, called the move "very significant:" "For the first time ever, the Security Council has unanimously referred an egregious human rights situation to the International Criminal Court. As President Obama said today, when a leader’s only means of staying in power is to use mass violence against his own people, he has lost the legitimacy to rule," she said. The council said its actions were aimed at "deploring the gross and systematic violation of human rights, including the repression of peaceful demonstrators." And members expressed concern about civilian deaths, "rejecting unequivocally the incitement to hostility and violence against the civilian population made from the highest level of the Libyan government." The uprising that began Feb. 15 has swept over nearly the entire eastern half of the country, breaking cities there out of his regime's hold. Qaddafi and his backers continue to hold the capital Tripoli while rebels have taken control of one city about 30 miles from Tripoli. Qaddafi is no stranger to international isolation. UN sanctions were slapped on his country after suspected Libyan agents planted a bomb that blew up Pan Am Flight 103 over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in 1988, killing 270 people, mostly Americans. Libya accepted responsibility for the bombing in 2003 and pledged to end efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction.







Radicals Bringing Campaign for Shariah to White House

('Islam is the solution and … the perfect system that needs to be implemented')

Feb. 25….(WND) Three British Islamic activists are planning a pro-Shariah law rally in front of the White House next week, arguing that it is the solution for all of America's problems. The March called Shariah-4-America will call on American Muslims to advocate Shariah law, and for Americans to run the country's business by Shariah. The Muslim clerics are Anjem Choudary, Abu Izzadeen and Sayful Islam, all of whom have been associated with Sheikh Omar Bakri Muhammad's group al-Muhajidoun. Sayful Islam says the message is clear: The American dream is a farce. "The message we're going to present is two-fold. The first is the fallacy of the American dream. The American dream has become a nightmare. The message of freedom and democracy has failed the people it's trying to help," Islam remarked. "The American people are suffering and are seeing oppression. They need to remove the tyrants of our time. The biggest tyrant of our time is Barack Obama, the American president," Islam commented. Islam says the second part of the message is Shariah law. "Shariah is the solution for all of the problems that mankind is facing today, economically, socially, judicially and politically. Islam is the solution and Shariah is the perfect system that needs to be implemented," Islam claimed. Islam says the activists are starting the Shariah-4-America campaign outside the White House because of its symbolic value. March co-organizer Anjem Choudary says the event will highlight a historic date in Islamic history. "We want to invite the Muslims and non-Muslims in America to think about Islam as an alternative way of life. What took place in Egypt and Tunisia and what we're seeing now in Libya is people fighting against oppression," Choudary claimed. "Just as Muslims are obliged to call for Shariah in Muslim countries, they are equally obliged to call for Shariah in non-Muslim countries. As the bastion of freedom and democracy and the center of the Western world, it is only appropriate that the call for the Shariah should be there (at the White House," Choudary said. "We believe that we should be propagating Islam to the British, to the Americans, to the French and other nations because we believe that (Shariah) is superior and that is the way forward for mankind," Choudary also said.



Quartet Attempting to Revive Peace Talks

Feb. 25….(Jerusalem Post) Envoys from the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia are hoping to hold separate meetings with Israeli and Palestinian negotiators to try to revive peace talks, the UN's Mideast coordinator said Thursday, Robert Serry said the so-called Quartet of Mideast mediators has proposed meetings with the two sides on all core issues blocking a peace settlement. They include borders of a Palestinian state, security arrangements, the fate of Palestinian refugees and the status of Jerusalem. "I hope very soon the Quartet envoys will be meeting separately with the parties, that is something new," he told reporters after briefing the UN Security Council. "We are at the moment seeking confirmation from both sides that they are willing to meet the Quartet envoys next week in Brussels." Serry said the separate meetings would precede a meeting of Quartet leaders in mid-March, "probably in the margins of a meeting in Paris." He again warned the council that "the credibility of the international community including the Quartet" is at stake in 2011. Serry said it is urgent that the Quartet respond and "engage the parties in serious talks, including on substance, and support them in finding ways back to the negotiation table." The United States has tried but failed to get the two sides back to face-to-face negotiations that would culminate in a peace settlement and the establishment of a Palestinian state. Both sides have agreed to US President Barack Obama's target date of September 2011 for an agreement, but negotiations collapsed weeks after they restarted in September because Israel ended a 10-month moratorium on settlement construction. With many Mideast countries preoccupied by anti-government protests, Serry said the Israelis and Palestinians may want to wait to see "what kind of a new Middle East" emerges. But he said "we want to hold the parties to their commitment to reach an agreement by September." Asked what the Quartet could do that the United States and its mediator George Mitchell couldn't do to revive negotiations, Serry said, "I believe we can help the parties by bringing some suggestions to them which could be a basis for those negotiations." He refused to provide any details of the suggestions saying the Quartet wants to discuss them first with the Israelis and Palestinians. As the only Quartet envoy actually based in the Mideast, Serry said he sees developments on the ground that can complicate a two-state solution. Therefore, he said, the mediators must stress the urgency of finding a solution because "the two-state solution is not a solution that is going to be there forever, and I think the Quartet as a whole has a responsibility here."



Abbas no Better Than Arafat

Feb. 25….(Israel Today) Though it didn’t go so far as to compare the clean-cut current Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, to his belligerent, gun-wielding predecessor and mentor, Yasser Arafat, the Washington Post last week did signal that it has finally woken up to the fact that Abbas is not truly interested in peace. After the debacle of Arafat, Washington and the West were nearly giddy at the prospect of working with the more soft-spoken Abbas, insisting that his calm demeanor and good taste in neckties were evidence that he was a true moderate and viable peace partner. But the shine has begun to wear off, and even members of America’s liberal press are realizing that Abbas is no better than the man who trained him, and remains dedicated to Arafat’s vision. Had the Post and rest of the Western elite paid any attention whatsoever to what Abbas has been saying for years in Arabic, they would have come to this realization far sooner. But, I digress. They are coming to this realization now, and, as they say, “better late than never.” In its Friday editorial, the Washington Post slammed Abbas for insisting he is interested in peace, but then failing to take advantage of having a president so dedicated to that cause in the White House. “For two years Abbas has enjoyed the support of a US president more sympathetic to the Palestinian cause than most, if not all, of his predecessors,” wrote the Post. “Yet Mr. Abbas has mostly refused to participate in the direct peace talks that Barack Obama made one of his top foreign policy priorities.”

    On top of that, the paper noted that Abbas now appears “bent on embarrassing and antagonizing the US administration.” The editorial was referring to Abbas’ insistence on going through with last week’s UN Security Council vote on an anti-Israel resolution that Obama pleaded with him to pull from the agenda. As Obama told Abbas would happen, the US was forced to veto the resolution, which would have officially made it illegal for Jews to live in Judea and Samaria. The White House explained that while it agreed that Jews should not be allowed to live in their biblical heartland, a unilateral action via the UN Security Council was only going to make direct peace negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel impossible. In addition to having no impact on Jewish settlement activity, the Post opined that by forcing the US to veto the resolution, Abbas had risked causing the protests across the Arab world against autocratic rule “to take an ugly anti-American turn.” But, perhaps that was the point. The paper concluded that Abbas’ actions may not make much sense, but that is only true “if one assumes that he is genuinely interested in a peace deal.” Perhaps, the Post suggested, it is time to take a hard look at all that evidence pointing to the fact Abbas is no better than Arafat. “If the UN resolution veto has one good effect, perhaps it will be to prompt a reevaluation of a leader who has repeatedly proved both weak and intransigent.”



Obama Finally Breaks Silence to Condemn Gaffai


Militias loyal to Muammer Gaddafi, the embattled Libyan leader, opened fire at unarmed demonstrators opposed to his rule as they streamed out of mosques in Tripoli, the capital and regime’s last stronghold after the fall of other major cities to the opposition. Defiant protesters chanting slogans against Col Gaddafi tried to march to Green Square in the city centre after Friday prayers, but they were met with gunfire, sometimes from snipers stationed on rooftops. Having lost huge swaths of his country, Col Gaddafi is now desperate to hold on to Tripoli, home to 2m people, or a third of the population of the north African nation. The city is the centre of the shrinking circle of territory still under the control of the Libyan leader. The entire eastern region and parts of western Libya near the border with Tunisia have already slipped from his grip.

Feb. 25….(In The Days) President Barack Obama today finally condemned the “outrageous” crackdown by Libyan security forces on protesters and said Washington would work with international partners to hold Muammar Gaddafi’s government accountable. “The suffering and bloodshed is outrageous and it is unacceptable. So are threats and orders to shoot peaceful protesters,” Obama said in his first public comments on the violence in Libya. He did not directly criticize Gaddafi and he stopped short of backing sanctions against the oil-producing North African country. Obama, the first US president to meet Gaddafi, has faced criticism in some quarters for not speaking out sooner, but US officials say they have tempered their response to ensure thousands of Americans in Libya can be safely evacuated. “We are doing everything we can to protect American citizens. It is my highest priority,” Obama said at the White House. Obama spoke as a US-government chartered ferry prepared to evacuate Americans and other foreigners to the island of Malta in the Mediterranean. The US government estimates there are several thousand Americans living in Libya. Most hold dual citizenship with about 600 carrying US passports only. State Department spokesman PJ Crowley said high seas were delaying the ferry’s departure. “Citizens are safe on board. It will leave when the weather permits,” he tweeted. After days of cautious statements on the turmoil in Libya, US officials steadily ratcheted up their rhetoric on Wednesday. Crowley said sanctions and freezing Libyan assets, including those belonging to Gaddafi, were among the options being considered by the United States. Sanctions alone would not have much impact, US exports to Libya were only $665 million in 2010, while US aid amounted to less than $1 million. Analysts say getting international agreement on such measures will likely be difficult and take time. Obama said he had ordered his national security team to prepare the full range of options for dealing with the crisis. “It is imperative that the nations and peoples of the world speak with one voice,” he said.



Thousands of Jordanians Protest for Democracy

(Protestors in Amman chant 'people want an elected government'; opposition leader Sheikh Mansour says 'reform has become a necessity that cannot wait')


Feb. 25….(YNET) Around five thousand Jordanian protestors took to the streets of Amman on Friday demanding political liberalization, wider parliamentary representation and constitutional changes limiting the powers of the throne. "Reform and change, this is the demand of people," angry protestors shouted among a mainly Islamists and leftist crowd joined by some tribal and liberal figures marching from the main Husseini mosque in the capital's downtown to a nearby square. The Jordanian opposition, spearheaded by the mainstream Islamists, the country's largest political party, have been protesting for weeks for wider democratic gains as anti-government demonstrations sweep across the Arab world. They are demanding more say, starting with a modern election law that broadens representation in parliament for inhabitants of the capital and the major cities of Zarqa and Irbid, where most of the country's seven million population live. The cities which are Islamist strongholds and heavily populated by Jordanians of Palestinian origin are under-represented in the 120-seat assembly in favor of sparsely populated rural and Bedouin areas inhabited mainly by native Jordanians, or so called East Bankers who are the backbone of support for the throne. Protestors chanted: "The people want to reform the regime", "we want a fair electoral law", and "people want an elected government". The Arab world has erupted in protests aimed at ousting long-standing rulers, but protests in Jordan have focused on holding free elections and fighting corruption. Jordanians see the throne as a unifying force and arbiter among competing tribes from the East Bank and a Palestinian majority from the West Bank. The Islamist and leftist opposition, along with growing traditional voices, want the monarch to move Jordan towards a true constitutional monarchy with a prime minister who is selected by parliament rather than appointed by the palace. "We want constitutional changes that bring us a parliamentary government and makes parliament truly representative of the Jordanian people," Mansour added. King Abdullah has faced stiff resistance to his efforts to modernize the tribally structured kingdom from a powerful conservative establishment in the state and the security apparatus that holds a tight grip on power. He has called on the government to move quickly on reforms that he acknowledged had stumbled.



US Military Advisers in Cyrenaica. Qaddafi Loses his Air Force

Feb. 25….(DEBKAfile Exclusive Report) Hundreds of US, British and French military advisers have arrived in Cyrenaica, Libya's eastern breakaway province, Debkafile's military sources report exclusively. This is the first time America and Europe have intervened militarily in any of the popular upheavals rolling through the Middle East since Tunisia's Jasmine Revolution in early January. The advisers, including intelligence officers, were dropped from warships and missile boats at the coastal towns of Benghazi and Tobruk Thursday Feb. 24, for a threefold mission:

1. To help the revolutionary committees controlling eastern Libyan establish government frameworks for supplying two million inhabitants with basic services and commodities;

2. To organize them into paramilitary units, teach them how to use the weapons they captured from Libyan army facilities, help them restore law and order on the streets and train them to fight Muammar Qaddafi's combat units coming to retake Cyrenaica.

3. The prepare infrastructure for the intake of additional foreign troops. Egyptian units are among those under consideration.

    Qaddafi was shaken up badly Friday, Feb. 25, when many of his air force commanders decided to no longer obey his orders or those of his commanders, Debkafile's exclusive military sources report.  This loss deprived him at one stroke of one of the key pillars sustaining his fight for survival against the opposition since Sunday, Feb. 20. It means he is short of an essential resource for recapturing the eastern half of the country where half of Libya's oil wealth and its main oil export terminals are situated.

    Friday, NATO Council and the UN Security Council meet in separate emergency sessions to consider ways to halt the bloodletting in Libya and punish its ruler Qaddafi for his violent crackdown of protesters. Debkafile reported on Feb. 22: The 22,000-strong Libyan Air Force with its 13 bases is Muammar Qaddafi's mainstay for survival against massive popular and international dissent. The 44 air transports and a like number of helicopters swiftly lifted loyal tribal militiamen fully armed from the Sahara and dropped them in the streets of Tripoli Monday Feb. 21. Thursday Qaddafi launched an offensive to wrest the coastal towns around Tripoli from rebel hands. Our military sources report that tanks pounded opposition positions in the towns of Misrata, 25 km to the east of Tripoli and Zawiya, 30 km west of the capital, under the command of Gen. Khweldi Hamidi, a Qaddafi kinsman. In a bloody battle, the insurgents ousted Qaddafi's forces from Misrata, but his troops broke through to Zawiya and captured the town at great loss of life. There are no reliable casualty figures but hundreds are believed to have been killed Thursday on both sides. Later that day, the insurgents of Cyrenaica announced they were firmly in control of the region including Libya's main export oil terminal in Benghazi, the country's second largest town.  Whether or not they decide to block the fuel supplies coming from Qaddafi-ruled areas, their seizure of the facility alone was enough to send oil prices shooting up again on world markets. Thursday night, Brent crude went for $117 the barrel in London and $103 in New York. In a 30-minute telephone interview Thursday night, Qaddafi again charged that Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood had instigated the protest uprising in Libya. He warned that the fall of Cyrenaica would open Libya to the establishment of a Muslim jihadi and radical rear base for attacks on Europe and incursions into Egypt.



Hamas Iran-Made Missiles hit Beersheba as Iranian Warships Dock in Syria

Feb. 24….(DEBKAfile Exclusive Report) Israel's security leaders ought not to have been surprised when Hamas fired two long-range Iranian-made Grad missiles Wednesday night at the Negev cities of Beersheba and Netivot. The attack occurred exactly when Iranian Navy commander Adm. Habibollah Sayyari was due in Syria's Latakia port to attend the welcoming party for the two Iranian warships which made it through the Suez Canal without US or Israeli interference. It also marked a fresh, redoubled Hamas offensive against Israel. The occupants of the Beersheba home, hit by the first long-range Grad surface missile to reach the Negev city from the Gaza Strip since Israel's Cast Led campaign of 2009, saved themselves by using the seconds between the warning siren and the explosion to take shelter in a bomb-proof room. That was the only part of their home to survive the blast. Eleven shock victims were hospitalized along the battered street. The town of Netivot  was spared by the Grad falling outside the built-up area. Earlier that day, a shoot-out flared at the Karni crossing when a Palestinian gang laid explosives at the border fence and followed up with mortar fire. IDF border patrols and tanks crews returned the fire, injuring 11 Palestinians. A second round of Palestinian mortar fire followed against a Shaar Hanegev kibbutz. No Israelis were hurt in this round of incidents. Wednesday night, Israel put the communities within range of the Gaza Strip, including the cities of Beersheba, Netivot, Ofakim, Sderot, Ashkelon and Ashdod, on heightened alert status for further Palestinian attacks. That night, Israeli air strikes hit a Jihad Islami missile team and then spread out to bomb Hamas command centers, which had meanwhile been hurriedly evacuated in expectation of Israel's routine aerial reprisal. Debkafile's military sources report that more aggression from the Gaza Strip is inevitable given the Netanyahu government's feeble or non-response despite the urgent need to shore up Israel's security situation continuously eroded by the turbulence in Arab capitals. Even though it was obvious that Hamas had been strengthened by Hosni Mubarak's fall in Egypt, Israel stood by as Hamas rampaged out of Gaza and into Sinai and the Egyptian-Israeli border areas, even when a Hamas special team on Feb. 5 blew up the Egyptian pipeline which conveyed 43 percent of Israel's gas needs. Replacement sources have added close to $400 million a month to Israel's energy bill.

    All Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu did was to permit an additional Egyptian troop brigade and a half to enter Sinai, some of them to guard the pipeline, which Cairo shows no sign of repairing. Western military sources report that the Iran-backed Palestinian Hamas is further exploiting the shaky situation in Cairo and Israeli inaction to double or even triple the quantities of weapons smuggled via the Suez Canal and Sinai into the Gaza Strip. One Israeli officer said he had never before seen surface-to-surface missiles, anti-aircraft missiles and anti-tank missiles secreted into Gaza in such bulk. The free passage afforded the two Iranian warships for transiting the Suez Canal Tuesday, without Egypt or US and Israeli warships even inspecting their cargoes, has encouraged Tehran to press on with its expansionist ambitions.  Hamas understood that its redoubled offensive against Israel would be most welcome. The Palestinian extremists held their fire until Tehran announced the warships had put into Latakia Wednesday and the arrival of Iran's navy chief that night. And then they went into action, first against an IDF border patrol, then to fire Grads at Beersheba and Netivot.

  Israel's policy-makers have chosen to ignore the role of those two vessels as the thin edge of a wedge: They are to set up a permanent base on the Mediterranean with more Iranian naval vessels continuing to pass through the Suez Canal and joining them at Latakia. Hamas is counting on Iran building up its military presence and on Israel to stand by helplessly – just as it did when its request to the new military rulers of Egypt to stop the Iranian flotilla's passage through Suez went unanswered. The Palestinians ruling Gaza are sending Grad missiles as messengers to Israel that they now enjoy Iranian support close by in the Mediterranean.



Iranian Warships Enter Mediterranean


Feb. 24….(Israel Today) Two Iranian warships, a frigate and a small destroyer, completed their transit of Egypt’s Suez Canal on Tuesday evening and entered the Mediterranean Sea a short distance from Israel. It marks the first time that the Iranian navy has entered the Mediterranean since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Israeli officials said that the two ships alone obviously do not pose any direct military threat, but insisted the move is a “major provocation.” Israeli warships will be following and monitoring the Iranians from a distance as the latter make their way to Syria. The Iranian ships are expected to dock in Syria for a number of months. Israeli Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom said that sending the ships to the Mediterranean is part of Iran’s efforts “against the West for hegemony and control in the Middle Eats.” It is also meant to demonstrate to the surrounding Arab nations that Iran is a power to be reckoned with.



Oil Rallies to $100, Stocks Retreat on Libya Revolt

Feb. 24….(Bloomberg) Oil rallied, touching $100 a barrel in New York for the first time since October 2008, as Libya’s uprising threatened to halt exports. Stocks fell amid concern higher energy costs will slow economic growth, while Treasuries dropped after a $35 billion auction. Crude for April delivery settled at $98.10 after surging as much as 4.8 percent to $100. Gasoline and heating oil also jumped. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index slid 0.6 percent as of the 4 p.m. close in New York after tumbling 2.1 percent yesterday, the most in six months. Hewlett-Packard Co. led losses in equities after its forecasts trailed analysts’ estimates. Sugar and cotton dropped more than 1.9 percent. The euro gained on prospects for higher interest rates. Concern that surging fuel prices will derail the global economic recovery grew as governments evacuated thousands of expatriates from Libya and opponents to Muammar Qaddafi took control of eastern port cities in Africa’s third-biggest crude supplier. An extended $10 rise in oil cuts 0.5 percentage point off US growth over two years, according to Deutsche Bank AG. “It’s economic momentum versus geopolitical events,” said Tommy Huie, who oversees about $33 billion as president and chief investment officer of M&I Investment Management in Milwaukee. “The US equity market wants to look beyond the current events in the Middle East. That’s part of the dynamic of a better economy and corporate profits. Obviously, it will all depend on the price of oil and Libya and whether we get more stability sooner rather than later.”

    Gasoline rose for a third day on the New York Mercantile Exchange, gaining 4.3 percent to $2.7149 a gallon. Heating oil advanced 4 percent to $2.9049 a gallon. Both settled at the highest prices since September 2008. Brent oil for April delivery climbed 5.6 percent to $111.66 a barrel. Heavy gunfire broke out in Tripoli, army units defected and a former aide to Qaddafi said the revolt may topple the regime within days. Oil prices may surge to $220 a barrel if political unrest in North Africa halts exports from Libya and Algeria, Nomura Holdings Inc. said. Saudi Arabia and some other producers are willing to put more oil on the market if buyers demand it even if no emergency OPEC meeting is held, said a person with knowledge of producer-nation policy.



Oil Tops $100, Raises Concern About Economy

Feb. 24….(AP) Crude oil prices rose to fresh two-year highs Wednesday, fanning concern about the impact of rising energy prices on the fragile global economic recovery. West Texas Intermediate crude for April delivery jumped $2.68, or 2.8%, to settle at $98.10 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Earlier in the day, prices hit triple digits for the first time since Oct. 2, 2008. Crude oil prices have soared 18% since Valentine's Day. In London, Brent crude added $5.47, or 5%, to $111.25 per barrel on the ICE Futures exchange. "I would view this as a very serious threat to the expansion, just when the economy is hitting its groove," says economist Mark Zandi of Moody's Analytics. Oil's surge has driven retail gasoline prices past $3 a gallon in recent months. The national average price for regular was $3.194 a gallon Wednesday, up from $2.66 a year ago. Tom Kloza, chief analyst for the Oil Price Information Service, expects gasoline prices to reach $3.50 to $3.75 by April ahead of the summer driving season, but slip toward $3.25 by midsummer. Prices are surging largely on fears that unrest in Libya and elsewhere could lead to supply disruptions. But Peter Beutel, president of Cameron Hanover, a risk management firm, says disruptions in one country would be offset by higher production in others. The big risk, he says, is the shutdown of No. 1 producer Saudi Arabia or several other nations.

    That scenario could push gas to $5 a gallon or higher, he says. If oil prices rise to $100 a barrel, from an average of about $90 so far this year, and stay there, that likely would shave growth in consumer spending in 2011 to 3% from 3.2%, according to IHS Global Insight. Economic growth would fall to 3.1% from 3.2%, IHS says. If oil rose to $125, Zandi says, "we'd go from a strong year and lots of job growth to a year that's very uncomfortable." Experts warn the next weeks and months could be highly volatile in energy markets. If the chaos spreads to other, bigger energy producers in the region, such as Iran or Saudi Arabia, price fluctuations could became as sharp as those in the 1970s, when an OPEC embargo caused gasoline shortages in the US analysts warned.

    Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi on Tuesday called on supporters to attack anti-government demonstrators as protesters backed by defecting army units claimed control over almost the entire eastern half of the country, including several oil-producing areas. Libya holds the most oil reserves in Africa and is the world's 15th-largest crude exporter at 1.2 million barrels per day, according to the Energy Information Administration. As the Libyan government cracked down on protesters, Western oil companies including Eni and Repsol-YPF temporarily suspended oil production in the country. BP has started evacuating workers. "The protests in Libya are the first to meaningfully put oil supplies at risk," Goldman Sachs said in a report. Goldman, which is forecasting benchmark crude to rise to $103 within 12 months, said recent violent protests in Bahrain show that wealthy oil-rich Gulf states are also vulnerable to political upheaval.

     Traders are watching closely protests in Iran, OPEC's second largest producer, and watching for signs of any unrest in Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest crude exporter. Analysts fear that further oil price spikes could fuel inflation, undermining consumer spending and global economic growth. Saudi Arabia, itself an authoritarian state, now finds itself surrounded by countries in the throes of revolution," energy analyst Richard Soultanian of NUS Consulting said. "Should the current situation continue to deteriorate, it has the potential to not only roil the energy markets but also upend the nascent and accelerated recoveries in developed and emerging markets." Saudi Arabia's oil minister Ali Naimi was quoted as saying that his country's production capacity of 12.5 million barrels per day could help "compensate for any shortage in international supplies." Saudi Arabia currently produces around 8 million barrels per day. The market, meanwhile, is also awaiting fresh information on US oil stockpiles, which are near all-time highs and have helped widen the spread between the Nymex and Brent contracts. Europe's higher perceived vulnerability to possible supply disruptions in Africa and the Middle East are also contributing to the premium in its benchmark Brent crude.



Sunni Muslim Cleric Orders Gaddafi Killed

Feb. 23….(Sky News) Influential Muslim cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi has issued a fatwa that any Libyan soldier who can shoot dead embattled leader Muammar Gaddafi should do so 'to rid Libya of him.' 'Whoever in the Libyan army is able to shoot a bullet at Mr Gaddafi should do so,' Qaradawi, an Egyptian-born cleric who is usually based in Qatar, told Al-Jazeera television. He also told Libyan soldiers 'not to obey orders to strike at your own people,' and urged Libyan ambassadors around the world to dissociate themselves from Gaddafi's regime. Famous in the Middle East for his at times controversial fatwas, or religious edicts, the octogenarian Qaradawi has celebrity status in the Arab world thanks to his religious broadcasts on Al-Jazeera. He has in the past defended 'violence carried out by certain Muslims.' The West accuses the cleric of supporting 'terrorism' because he sanctioned Palestinian suicide attacks in Israel. Britain and the United States have refused to grant him entry visas. The cleric, spiritual leader of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood and longtime resident of Qatar, heads the International Union for Muslim Scholars.



Crazed Gadhafi Babbles as Libya Burns


Feb. 22….(Newsmax) Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi vows to fight on and die a "martyr," calling on his supporters to take back the streets from protesters demanding his ouster, shouting and pounding his fist in a furious speech Tuesday on state TV. Gadhafi, swathed in brown robes and turban, spoke from a podium set up in the entrance of a bombed out building that appeared to be his Tripoli residence hit by US airstrikes in the 1980s and left unrepaired as a monument of defiance. The speech, which appeared to have been taped earlier, was aired on a screen to hundreds of supporters massed in Tripoli's central Green Square. Shouting in the rambling speech, he declared himself "a warrior" and proclaimed, "Libya wants glory, Libya wants to be at the pinnacle, at the pinnacle of the world." At times the camera panned out to show a towering gold-colored monument in front of the building, showing a fist crushing a fighter jet with an American flag on it, a view that also gave the strange image of Gadhafi speaking alone from behind a podium in the building's crumbling lobby, with no audience in front of him. "I am a fighter, a revolutionary from tents, I will die as a martyr at the end," he said. "I have not yet ordered the use of force, not yet ordered one bullet to be fired, when I do, everything will burn." Gadhafi depicted the protesters as misguided youths, who had been given drugs and money by a "small, sick group" to attack police and government buildings. He called on supporters to take to the streets immediately to reimpose control and to attack the protest leaders. Tripoli has been torn by two nights of bloodshed as pro-Gadhafi militiamen cracked down on protesters. Across the country, at least 250 people have been killed in a week of unrest. World leaders, including United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, have urgently demanded that Gaddafi halt the massacre of hundreds of protesters, but US President Barack Obama has remained relatively silent.

FOJ Note: The uproar in the Middle East the past few weeks reminds me of the ancient prophecy concerning the descendants of Ishmael. The ongoing fatwas issued by Muslim clerics for killing is set in the words of this prophecy. (Genesis 16:12 And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.)



Clinton: Illegal for Jews to live in Judea, Samaria

Feb. 23….(Israel Today) US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reiterated in an interview broadcast on Sunday that it remains American policy to view the Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria as “illegitimate” and an obstacle to peace. “It’s been American policy for many years that settlements were illegitimate,” Clinton told ABC News. Clinton’s remarks were taped on Friday, just hours before the US vetoed a UN Security Council resolution that would have officially condemned Jewish building in Judea and Samaria as illegal. The Obama Administration has since sought to clarify that the vote was absolutely not an endorsement of the Jews’ right to dwell in their biblical heartland, and the broadcast of this interview appears to be part of that clarification effort.

FOJ Note: Apparently Secretary Clinton has not read the Holy Bible. If she had, she would know that Israel possesses a Biblical deed to the very lands she implies is illegal for Jews to live in. Little further does she realize that by nullifying Jewish rights to this land that it will bring America into direct judgment from God!



Libyan Turmoil Weighs on Stocks as Oil Surges

Feb. 22….(Yahoo) Mounting concerns over Libya's violent crisis weighed on stocks Tuesday and sent oil prices surging, while the earthquake in the New Zealand city of Christchurch pushed the country's currency sharply lower. With deep rifts opening up in Moammar Gadhafi's regime, air force pilots defecting and a bloody crackdown in the capital of Tripoli, investors are fretting over how the crisis will end and what the impact on the North African country's oil production will be. Libya is the world's 18th largest oil producer, pumping out around 1.8 million barrels a day, or a little under 2 percent of global daily output. The OPEC country also sits atop the biggest oil reserves in the whole of Africa. With so much uncertainty surrounding a large chunk of the world's daily oil production, market prices surged. Benchmark crude for March delivery was up $4.80 a barrel, or 5.6 percent, at $92.55 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Earlier, it had it had been even higher above $94 a barrel. Rising crude prices are a particular worry for investors as they reinforce fears of inflation and raw materials costs. They also stoke worries of a big drop in global demand levels, as experienced in previous oil price shocks in 1973-4, 1979 and 2008. "Until uncertainty in the Middle East fades, the oil price is unlikely to decline, with the concomitant threat to inflation, and margins," said Derek Mitchell, a fund manager at Royal London Asset Management.



As his Regime Crumbles, Qaddafi Fights For Survival

Feb. 22….(DEBKAfile Exclusive Report) Even after two pilots defected to Malta, the 22,000-man strong Libyan Air Force with its 13 bases is Muammar Qaddafi's mainstay for survival against massive popular and international dissent. debkafile's military sources report that 44 air transports and a like number of helicopters swiftly lifted loyal tribal militiamen fully armed from the Sahara and dropped them in the streets of Tripoli Monday, Feb. 21. Qaddafi had mustered them to fill the gaps left by defecting army units and the large tribal militia which went over to the people. One of the ruler's sons, Mutassim Qaddafi, is in command of the Tripoli crackdown. Air Force planes, mostly from the Libyan Air Force's inventory of 226 trainers, and helicopter gunships, bombed and fired heavy machine guns to scatter every attempt to stage a rally in the city's districts. In their wake, Mutassim's "Libyan Popular Army" cleared the streets of protesters.

    The tactics employed by Qaddafi and his sons was, first, to give the protesters free rein to rampage through the city, torch state TV and government buildings and so generate an impression among them and in the West that the Qaddafis were about to fall. But when the demonstrators fanned out to seize the rest of the capital, they were bombed from the air and targeted by the tribal militias, who had no qualms about shooting directly at civilian crowds. By the small hours of Tuesday, Feb. 22, when Qaddafi went on air to demonstrate he was still in Tripoli, he was again in control of the capital. In a similar tactic, he first tried to gull his international critics by sending his urbane son, Saif al-Islami, who has convinced many influential people in the West that he is a moderate compared with his father, to state the Qaddafi case in a television interview Sunday, Feb. 20. Behind the scenes, another son, Mutassim, supreme commander of the Popular Army, designed a vicious crackdown in the capital. Deep in Sahara, their father raised a tribal army to fight for their survival. When Muammar Qaddafi delivered his victory statement Tuesday, he sounded just like "the madman of the Middle East," and epithet attached to him by the late Ronald Reagan. But in less than 60 seconds, he had conveyed his message that, although buildings were on fire in Tripoli, he was still standing and was determined to punish all his enemies, whom he dismissed scornfully as "foreign dogs" and "terrorist gangs of misguided youths, exploited and fed hallucinogenic pills."

    Our military sources report his strategy for staying in power rests first on consolidating his grip on Tripoli and then using it as a base for military operations to regain control of the rest of the country, including Cyrenaica. The Libyan ruler has not yet thrown all this military resources into the battle for survival. His navy is still in reserve. But his substantial air might well be crucial from his fight to recover Cyrenaica's coastal towns of Benghazi and Tobruk from the rebels. Qaddafi shows no sign of being cowed or deterred by international revulsion at his methods and the condemnations expected from the UN Security Council and the Arab League, both of which hold special meetings on Libya later Tuesday. Libya's deputy ambassador to UN accused the ruler of "genocide" and war crimes against his own people" and several ambassadors have quit or refused to represent his government any longer. But Qaddafi is very much on the warpath.



FBI: Muslim Brotherhood Deeply Rooted Inside US

(Terror-support group controls most Islamic groups, mosques)


Feb. 22….(WND) Staff investigators with the House and Senate intelligence committees say they are probing the domestic security threat posed by the radical Muslim Brotherhood and, specifically, whether Brotherhood operatives have penetrated the US government. The true nature, ambitions and global reach of the Cairo-based Muslim Brotherhood suddenly have become the focus of debate in Washington, following unrest in Egypt and other parts of the Middle East. As the Muslim Brotherhood threatens to effectively replace Egypt's secular, pro-Western regime, the tentacles of its worldwide jihadist movement have reached deep into the Muslim community in America. Shockingly, federal court documents reveal that virtually every major Muslim organization in America is a front group for the Brotherhood. They also show that its US network has raised millions of dollars for Hamas, al-Qaida and other terrorist groups. "The most prominent Islamic organizations in the United States are all controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood," said FBI veteran John Guandolo, who worked several Brotherhood-related terror cases out of the bureau's Washington field office as a special agent after 9/11.

    The Muslim Brotherhood's origins in America go back more than four decades. In the 1960s, radical Muslim immigrants began organizing in America and developing a criminal underworld that largely escaped federal law enforcement scrutiny. They eventually incorporated nonprofit organizations with benign-sounding names, and told anybody who asked they were simply forming a social network or "cultural society" for Muslims. But in the wake of 9/11, Washington allowed case agents to start connecting the dots, and they began to see a lot of overlap in the operations of the Muslim groups and their leaders, along with a lot of Saudi money and suspicious activity. This confirmed the hunches of veteran counter-terrorism investigators, who believed the groups were connected in an international conspiracy against America and its key Mideast ally, Israel.



Ayatollah Khamenei: US Must be Removed from Islamic World


Feb. 22….(The New Age) Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Sunday called on Muslims to "remove" the US from the Islamic world. "The main problem in the Muslim world is the presence of the United States," he told a gathering of Shiite and Sunni scholars in Tehran for an international conference on Islam. "It is necessary to remove the US from the Islamic world," the all-powerful cleric and Islamic republic's commander-in-chief said, adding that the country's arch-foe was currently weak. Khamenei urged Muslims worldwide to preserve the "people's movement in Egypt," saying it was the duty of both the people and dignitaries of Arab nations and the entire Islamic community. He reiterated that the Arab revolts were "Islamic" and must be consolidated. "The enemies try to say that the popular movements in Egypt, Tunisia and other nations are un-Islamic, but certainly these popular movements are Islamic and must be consolidated," he said. Khamenei also urged that "the conspiracy of enemies to create differences between Sunnis and Shiites" be confronted. On February 4, in his Friday prayer sermon, Khamenei called for an Islamic regime to be installed in Egypt, a week before that country's strongman Hosni Mubarak was ousted. Iranian officials expressed support for the uprising in the Arab world's most populous nation.



US Warships Box in Iranian Flotilla

Feb. 22….(DEBKAfile Exclusive Report) The repeated delays and contradictory statements about the two Iranian warships' transit of the Suez Canal to the Mediterranean is accounted for by a standoff between the Iranian flotilla and five US warships deployed in recent days at the waterway's southern entrance and along its course, debkafile's sources disclose. Thursday night, Feb. 17, the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, escorted by missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf and the fast supply ship USNS Arctic, headed south through the canal. By Friday morning, they were through and taking up position opposite the Kharg cruiser and Alvand missile destroyer of the Iranian Navy's 12th Flotilla, which were waiting to enter the Suez Canal at the southern Red Sea entrance. Furthermore, since the first week of February, the USS Kearsarge, another aircraft carrier, was posted in the Great Bitter Lake opposite Ismailia and the canal's main routes with a large contingent of marines aboard. The USS George Washington carrier and the USS Carl Vinson were additionally deployed in the Gulf of Aden, the latter having been moved from the Pacific. A battle of nerves is therefore underway. The Iranian warships found themselves cheek to jowl with a major concentration of America naval might piling up in the Red Sea and Suez and were not sure what would happen if they went forward with their mission to transit the Suez Canal for the Mediterranean for the first time in 30 years on their way to Syria. Sunday night, the Canal authorities announced another 48 hours delay shortly after Tehran state TV claimed the warships were already through to the Mediterranean. And, finally, the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier was quietly transferred from Bahrain, headquarters of the US Fifth Fleet amid the anti-government uprising, to a point opposite the Iranian Gulf coast.

    This pile-up of US naval, air and marine might at strategic points in the Middle East is a warning to meddlers to keep their hands off the revolutions, uprisings and protests sweeping Arab nations. It carries a special message for Tehran that the Obama administration will not permit the Islamic Republic's rulers to make military and political hay from the unrest, in Bahrain or anywhere else. By positioning the Enterprise opposite Iran's 12th Flotilla at the Red Sea entrance to the Suez Canal on Feb. 17 Washington has confronted Tehran with a hard dilemma, which was practically spelled out by US State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley a day earlier: "If the ships move through the canal, we will evaluate what they actually do," he said. "It's not really about the ships. It's about what the ships are carrying, what's their destination, what's the cargo on board, where's it going, to whom and for what benefit." This was the US spokesman's answer to the Debkafile disclosure of Feb. 16 that the Kharg was carrying long-range surface missiles for Hizballah. It raised the possibility that the moment they venture to sail into the Suez Canal, the two Iranian warships will be boxed in between the Enterprise and the Kearsarge and called upon to allow their cargoes to be inspected as permitted by the last round of UN sanctions against Iran in the case of suspicious war freights. According to Debkafile's intelligence sources, the flurry of conflicting statements from Cairo and Tehran were issued to muddy the situation surrounding the Iranian flotilla and cloud Tehran's uncertainty about how to proceed.





Christians In Egypt Asked to Bow in Submission to Allah

('We are in the extreme minority ... it is intimidating')

Feb. 22….(WND) In what Egypt's Christians fear may be a sign of things to come, a senior Islamic cleric asked Christians to bow in Muslim prayer in an act of submission to Allah. On Friday, famed Egyptian theologian Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a spiritual leader to the Muslim Brotherhood who hosts a popular Islam-themed television show on Al Jazeera, led the Islamic prayer services in Cairo's Tahrir Square, the epicenter of Egypt's uprising.

While he repeatedly offered nods to Egypt's Coptic Christians, unmentioned in most news media accounts of the ceremony was that Qaradawi asked all in attendance, specifically singling out Christians, to bow in Islamic prayer. A Coptic Christian at the event told WND the request was intimidating. "Whether he meant to or not, this was asking Christian to bow in an act of submission to Islam and Allah," said the Christian, who asked that he named be withheld. "There were maybe 250,000 people at the rally. Almost all were Muslims. So when we (Christians) are asked to bow, and we are in the extreme minority in the crowd, it is intimidating." The Christian witness said thousands of Christians in attendance at the rally did not bow. A Coptic Christian leader told WND he believes Qaradawi's request may reflect a larger emerging Islamic role in Egypt. Qaradawi's speech was, in part, focused on political Islam, replete with his quoting verses of the Quran.

    While he asked the entire rally to bow in Islamic prayer, he also used his speech to reassure the Christian minority of their place in Egypt, telling the crowd that "in this square sectarianism died." He discarded the customary Islamic clerical opening of "Oh Muslims," in favor of "Oh Muslims and Copts." He praised Muslims and Christians for standing together in Egypt's revolution and even hailed what he called the Coptic Christian "martyrs" who once fought the Romans and Byzantines. Then he asked the Christians to bow in Muslim prayer. "I invite you to bow down in prayer together," he said.

    Qaradawi had been a vocal opponent of deposed Egyptian rule Hosni Mubarak. He has lived in exile in Qatar for decades. His return to Egypt is seen as evidence of a change in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood. He is banned from entering the United States and Britain for his support of violence against Israel and American forces in Iraq. Egypt's ruling military council last week appointed a committee to amend the Egyptian constitution. The new committee consists of eight members, including Sobhi Saleh, a lawyer and a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Brotherhood seeks to establish Islamic law in Egypt. Both Hamas and al-Qaida are violent offshoots of the Muslim Brotherhood. A top source in Egypt's Coptic Christian community told WND he and other Coptic Christians held a meeting last Monday with officials at the US Embassy in Cairo to raise objections about the inclusion of the Brotherhood in the constitutional committee. The source said the Christian community pointed out that the official Muslim Brotherhood charter, amended in 2007, calls for the imposition of Islamic law in Egypt.



Iran Heads For the Suez Canal

Feb. 22….(by Dore Gold) Iran has been seeking to establish that it is the hegemonial power in the Middle East. Its Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, gave an interview to the Iranian daily Ressalat on July 7, 1991, and asked a rhetorical question: “Do we look to preserve the integrity of our land, or to we look to its expansion?” He then answered his own question: “We must definitely look to expansion.” And indeed, in the years that followed, Iranian forces have been involved in regional subversion from Lebanon to Saudi Arabia and most recently in Iraq and Afghanistan. Khamenei’s spokesman, Hossein Shariatmadari, wrote on July 9, 2007: “Bahrain is part of Iran’s soil.” For the last 20 years, the Iranian leadership has been remarkably consistent. Now Iran wants to demonstrate that its naval power is not just confined to the Persian Gulf, within its immediate neighborhood, but that its warships can reach as far as the Mediterranean Sea. This mission is well beyond what might be expected of the Iranian Navy. It should be remembered that the regular Iranian Navy still consists of relatively old ships from the time of the Shah, which its commanders hope to modernize with new weapons systems, particularly naval missiles. According to a report by the Office of US Naval Intelligence, the Iranian Navy is preparing itself to project its power beyond the Strait of Hormuz with new naval bases in the Gulf of Oman that will be ready in 2015. Previously, Iranian warships have in fact reached Sudan and Somalia, but they have not entered the Mediterranean. Moreover, Iran’s other naval force that belongs to the Revolutionary Guards specializes in the use of small naval craft within the Persian Gulf that are being trained for “guerilla war at sea.”

    The limits of Iranian naval power suggest that the dispatch of Iranian ships to the Suez Canal is political and not based on any ambitious military mission. It is a case of naval diplomacy. In short, a Mediterranean deployment was clearly premature for the Iranian Navy. What then could be the mission of the Iranian warships? What is the political message that their deployment suggests? Up until this month, Egypt led the Sunni Arab countries, like Saudi Arabia and Jordan, which have been seeking to contain the spread of Iranian power. However, with Egypt neutralized for now, the Iranians want to send a signal that they are prepared to fill the vacuum created by the fall of President Mubarak by dispatching warships through the Suez Canal for the first time. From the perspective of the Iranian leadership, which reiterates on multiple occasions that the US and the rest of the West are powers in decline, there is likely a view that the fact that Washington could not help its old ally, Mubarak, means that US power in the Middle East is waning. Looking at events in Cairo from Tehran, it appears that America cannot defend what should have been its own interests (it does not matter that President Obama had no intention of saving Mubarak). Indeed, already in April 2009, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad warned Washington: “We say to you today that you are in a position of weakness. Your hands are empty and you can no longer promote your interests from a position of strength.” The Iranian naval move is a simple signal: wherever the US withdraws from, Iran will be there to enter. Should Iran cross the nuclear weapons threshold, this kind of assertiveness will only increase.



Could the Kingdom of Bahrain Become an Iranian Pearl Harbor?

Feb. 22….(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs) The Islamic Republic of Iran has reiterated in the past that its military strategy is based on “asymmetric warfare,“ Tehran will not confront the US and its allies directly, given the superior military technology of the West, but rather through subversion and terrorism. Bahrain is, in fact, the ideal target for such an Iranian strategy. The actual stakes in the struggle for Bahrain are far greater than one would think, given its small physical size and its tiny population (738,000). When the US entered the Second World War, Imperial Japan launched a sea-borne air-strike against the headquarters and ships of the US Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor in 1941. Today, as is well known, the headquarters of the US Fifth Fleet is in Bahrain. Iran does not need to employ its air force against the US naval facility, but only to topple the pro-American regime of the al-Khalifa family and replace it with a new Bahraini regime backed by the Shi’a majority which seeks the immediate withdrawal of the fleet. In 2005, Shi’a demonstrators marched in Manama, Bahrain’s capital, showing their support for Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Three years later in 2008, Shi’a demonstrators waved Hizbullah flags in Manama and called for closing US bases in Bahrain.

    The Sunni ruling family of tiny, Shi’a-majority Bahrain have long recognized that they needed outsiders, first the British, then the United States, to protect them from predatory neighbors, Iran foremost among them. Both Shahs and Ayatollahs have asserted claims to sovereignty over Bahrain from time to time. While keeping close to their American protectors, Bahrain’s rulers seek to avoid provoking Iran unnecessarily, and keep lines of communication with Iranian leaders open. The Sunni al-Khalifa family took Bahrain in 1783 from another Arab clan that acknowledged Persian overlordship. In 1971 the British colonizers left Bahrain at a time when the last Shah of Iran asserted and then withdrew a claim of sovereignty over the tiny island. After the Islamic revolution, the Iranian regime has proclaimed sovereignty over Bahrain from time to time. Tensions between Bahrain and Iran developed again in February 2009 when Ali Akbar Nateq-Nouri, an advisor to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said Iran had sovereignty over Bahrain. He called Bahrain Iran’s 14th province (Saddam Hussein called Kuwait Iraq’s 19th province during the 1991 Gulf War). It should come as no surprise that Bahraini rulers view Iran with deep suspicion and support fully the US efforts to pressure and contain Iran.

    Unfortunately, 60-70% of Bahrain’s 500,000 citizens are Shi’a, swearing allegiance to clerics in Iran. No doubt this dire situation is not pleasant for the US, and its interests in the region. The protests in Bahrain, home to the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, have created a serious situation for the US national security and for its economic interests. Bahrain has been a faithful ally to the US, has developed very close intelligence cooperation with the US, especially on issues of counter-terrorism, cooperates in the military and naval fields, as well as in the organization of an anti-Iranian Arab alliance. The U.S. has every reason to be worried if Bahrain tumbles under Iranian hegemony. Indeed, all the ingredients are present for a potential change in Bahrain. It is also obvious that only through the use of force can the Bahraini regime survive. For how long? Certainly for as long as the US is willing to support the regime and ignore its actions against human rights, and as long as there is no overt confrontation with Iran. Even more worrisome for the US is the fact that this Shi’a protest could very easily expand to the neighboring eastern Saudi shore of Al-Ahsaa where most of the population is also Shi’a. Such a situation and potential continued unrest could create a serious challenge to the military presence of the US in the Gulf area, especially if it is exploited by Iranian agents interested in provoking havoc in an “American preserve” at a time when Tehran itself is feeling the weight of popular protest, encouraged openly by the Obama Administration. In view of the above, there is a clear possibility that the American naval presence in Bahrain will become a target for potential Iranian terrorist acts.



Churches Open Doors to Muslim Worship

Feb. 21….(Fox News) They see it as their Christian duty. But others disagree, saying it extends the hand of fellowship where it was never intended to go. Two Protestant churches are taking some heat from critics for opening their church buildings to Muslims needing places to worship because their own facilities were either too small, or under construction. Heartsong Church in Cordova, Tenn., let members of the Memphis Islamic Center hold Ramadan prayers there last September. And Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Alexandria, Va., allows the Islamic Circle of North America to hold regular Friday prayers in their building while their new mosque is being built. Diane Bechtol of Aldersgate says this is something Christians are called to do: Be neighborly and develop relationships, even those who don't share your beliefs. "I think it's a tenet of our Christian faith, and that is that we extend hospitality to the stranger,” said Bechtol. “We are a congregation that wants to be helpful to people and if we are asked to help a neighbor in need, that's what we do." But Dr. Alex McFarland, a Christian theologian and radio talk show host, charged these churches “have crossed the line from respect and tolerance, to ... affirmation and endorsement. "We as the church are called to show love, we're called to help. But to let a building simultaneously be used for the activities of a mosque and also the activities of Jesus Christ, it's just incompatible. And I think it's one more example of political correctness and hyper-tolerance gone awry."

    Mohamed Elsanousi adamantly disagrees, saying it’s good for the country to know churches like these are extending a hand to Muslims. Elsanousi is National Community Outreach Director of the Islamic Society of North America. He says "allowing people the freedom of worship is respectful and strengthens the relationship." Elsanousi says there are many churches and even synagogues in America where Muslims share space with Christians. “We feel good about it,” he says. That trend may continue as the Muslim population across the US continues to grow. Mosque construction is at an all-time high. As of September, there were 1,897 mosques in the United States, a 57 percent increase since 2000. Several of those building projects have caused friction with local communities. According to the Pew Forum, there are 35 proposed Mosques and Islamic centers that have encountered resistance. The most prominent, the Ground Zero mosque, is just two blocks from the World Trade Center site.

   Dr. Jason Hood, an Evangelical theologian, says there are other ways Christians can share the love of Christ without building a bridge too far. "Caring for Muslim refugees is particularly important,” he says, along with "sharing meals and recreational opportunities." Heartsong's relationship with its Muslim neighbors has developed into an annual Thanksgiving meal between the two faiths, and the use of a joint 15-acre community park. Steve Stone, Heartsong's senior pastor, wrote in Christianity Today that "No thought at all was given to the political ramifications. The decision was firmly based only on our understanding of the mission and nature of the church." He also pointed out that "there was no trading of theologies. They are Muslims; we are Jesus followers; both of us are clear about that." But McFarland says it's good to remember the "political ramifications" of Muslim-Christian interaction. "What if we went to Muslims and said 'Hey, can we use your mosque for the worship of Jesus, the incarnate son of God, the one that said 'no one comes to the Father but through him.' I doubt there would be a lot of reciprocity’." McFarland says the groups run the risk of creating something called “Chrislam,” a combination of the two faiths that essentially ignores the big white elephant in the room: the exclusive claims of both Christianity and Islam.

FOJ Note: Should Christians be involved in anything that promotes the lies of Satan? The things of Christ have nothing in common with the teachings of Mohammed. (II Corinthians 6:14-15 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?)



Egyptian Revolution was Islamic, not Democratic

Feb. 21….(Israel Today) The leader of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood on Sunday clarified that the toppling of President Hosni Mubarak and his regime was driven primarily by a desire to return Egypt to its Islamic roots, and not by a Western ideal of democracy. Speaking from Iran, where he is attending the International Conference on Islamic Unity, Kamal Helbawi stressed the Islamic nature of the Egyptian uprising, and criticized international efforts to make the revolution look like a move toward the West and its principles. “People of Egypt are seeking human dignity, social justice, and their human rights none of which has any contradiction with Islamic principles,” Helbawi told Iran’s IRNA news agency. He added that the people’s demands stemmed from their interest in Islam. Regarding the Israel-Egypt peace treaty, Helbawi insisted, “We cannot respect such agreements and won’t approve of them.” If the Brotherhood comes to power, or has any significant influence over the next Egyptian government, Helbawi reiterated that it would “annul the shameful Camp David Accords.”



Cairo and Tehran Connive to Slip Iranian Warships Through Suez after Fake Delays

Feb. 21….(DEBKAfile Special Report) Cairo and Tehran connived to slip the two Iranian warships through the Suez Canal to the Mediterranean Sunday, Feb. 20, after a series of fake delaying tactics agreed between them to cover the flotilla's movements. Egypt's military rulers approved the passage of Iranian flotilla through the Suez Canal without inspecting their freights for banned cargo, taking advantage of the sandstorm over the region which obscured them from spy satellites and helped them to give monitors the slip. Tehran marked this landmark event with an official state TV statement Sunday that the ships had entered the Mediterranean and were on their way to Syria.

    US State Department spokesman PJ Crowley said he was "highly skeptical" of the Syrian claim that the two ships' visit was for training. "If the ships move through the canal, we will evaluate what they actually do. It's not really about the ships. It's about what the ships are carrying, what's their destination, what's the cargo on board, where's it going, to whom and for what benefit," Crowley told a news conference. He was responding to questions in the wake of Debkafile's disclosure that the Karg was carrying missiles for Hizballah and indicating that the US and all other UN members were authorized by UN sanctions against Iran to board and search Iranian ships suspected of carrying illegal weapons. Heavy US and Israeli pressure failed to dissuade Egypt's military rulers from letting the Iranian flotilla through Suez. So now the waterway has been opened wide for Iran to consign heavy weapons deliveries to Syria and Lebanon, in the first instance, and eventually to try and break Israel's naval blockade on the Gaza Strip and bring Hamas the heavy munitions that were impossible to transport through smuggling tunnels. Israel is closely monitoring the Iranian flotilla.

    Up until now, Saudi Arabia, in close conjunction with Egypt and its President Hosni Mubarak, led the Sunni Arab thrust to contain Iranian expansion, especially in the Persian Gulf. However, the opening of a Saudi port to war ships of the Islamic Republic of Iran for the first time in the history of their relations points to a fundamental shift in Middle East trends in consequence of the Egyptian uprising.  It was also the first time Cairo has permitted Iranian warships to transit Suez from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean. Ironically, President Mubarak would have never agreed to such a scenario favoring Iran!



Obama’s Anti-Israel Agenda Aligns With Former Pastors

(Echoes of president’s Jew-baiting pastor in foreign policy)

Feb. 21….(Washington Times) President Obama is siding with Israel‘s enemies. He is slowly fracturing America’s long-standing alliance with the Jewish state and leaving it isolated on the world stage. The administration recently told Arab governments Washington will support a UN Security Council resolution that stipulates the world body “does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity.” The move is almost unprecedented. America has almost never publicly criticized Israel, our best friend in the Middle East and the region’s only genuine Western-style democracy at the UN The reason: The organization is dominated by anti-Semitic, anti-American dictatorships obsessed with condemning the Jewish state. Israel is lambasted constantly while the rampant human rights abuses of other countries, especially Arab regimes, Russia and China, are barely noticed. The United States has opposed this double standard, until now.

    The result will be to drive a wider wedge between Washington and Jerusalem. Israelis rightly will conclude that Obama is willing to betray a pivotal pro-American ally in order to appease the “Arab street.” Radical Islamists also will realize that Washington’s support is fickle; their dream of driving the Jews into the sea no longer seems unattainable. In fact, now it is entirely possible. Obama‘s decision to betray Israel should come as no surprise. He is a privileged liberal who reflects the values and prejudices of the academic left. The cultural milieu of his intellectual formation was steeped in hatred of America and the West. His father was an anti-colonial socialist determined to destroy European imperialism. His mentor was Frank Marshall Davis, an avowed communist. His pastor was the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, a black nationalist known for his Jew-baiting. His seminal intellectual influences were revolutionary Marxists such as Frantz Fanon and Edward Said. They championed the belief, prevalent among college radicals, that Israel symbolizes Western subjugation of Third World peoples. In their view, it is a militaristic, quasi-fascist state based on oppression and Zionist expansion. In other words, for the hard left, Palestine is a continuation of the anti-imperial struggle, a mass movement for liberation from Western occupation. That is why progressives have only two real enemies: the United States and Israel.

    During his presidency, Obama has appeased and emboldened radical Islamists. He has apologized for America to the Muslim world. He has prematurely withdrawn US troops from Iraq, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. He has undermined President Hamid Karzai‘s government in Afghanistan, enabling the Taliban to make significant inroads. He has turned a blind eye as Turkey becomes increasingly Islamic and Hezbollah has taken control in Lebanon. In 2009, he did not lift a finger, or even say a word of encouragement, to the Green pro-democracy movement in Iran. When it came to supporting the secular, pro-American demonstrators of Tehran, Mr. Obama was stone silent. In fact, he publicly said Washington should not “interfere” in Iranian “internal” affairs. Even today, as brave Iranian democrats battle the forces of tyrant Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president cannot muster the indignation he demonstrated toward former Egyptian autocrat Hosni Mubarak. Obama refuses to demand that the Persian strongman step aside, as he did with the Egyptian pharaoh.

    The fall of the Mubarak regime signifies a major victory for the Muslim Brotherhood. Egypt’s military is in control. The top brass has promised to hold elections in about six months. The Brotherhood is the most disciplined, organized, and effective political force on the Nile. It is the oldest modern Islamist movement in the Middle East, comprising a vast underground that has been patiently waiting to seize power. The Brotherhood is the future; secular moderates are the past. The Brotherhood aims to erect an Iranian-style theocracy. Its founder, Hassan al-Banna, sought to imitate the fascist movements of the 1930s. Instead of desiring a world dominated by a German master race, he wanted a global caliphate, the restoration of an Islamic empire stretching from the Middle East to Europe. Last year, the Brotherhood‘s supreme guide, Mohammed Badie, said that the defeat of Israel and America could only occur “by raising a jihadi generation that pursues death just as the enemies pursue life.” The Brotherhood is a mortal threat to Israel and to the West.

    Rather than confronting this ugly reality, the administration insists on whitewashing the Brotherhood‘s true intentions. Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper recently claimed that the Brotherhood was “largely secular.” At a Senate hearing on Wednesday, he said the group had no “specific agenda” and was “heterogeneous,” consisting of multiple political wings. Mr. Clapper is a liar and should be told to resign. The Brotherhood has one primary goal: the destruction of the Jewish state. Its leaders call for scuttling Egypt’s 1979 peace treaty with Israel. The group openly glorifies Mr. Ahmadinejad and Iran‘s one-party, fundamentalist regime. Its Palestinian branch is Hamas, which is dedicated to the extermination of the Jews. By abandoning Mubarak, Obama has paved the way for the radicalization of Egypt. Israel now faces the specter of being strategically encircled by anti-Semitic bellicose states, Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Bashir Assad’s autocracy in Syria and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Behind them stands Iran. Mr. Ahmadinejad is inching closer to acquiring the nuclear bomb and fulfilling his vow to “wipe Israel off the map.” The Jews are reliving the nightmare of the late 1930s. Except this time, it is Islamic fascism that threatens their very existence. They were alone then, and they are increasingly alone today. Obama has shown that Israel cannot count on the White House in its hour of need.


Islamic Cleric to Lead White House Protest:
Calls for Muslims to 'rise up and Establish Islamic State in America'


Feb. 21….(MailOnLine) A hardline Muslim cleric who sparked anger across the US with his anti-American comments in a television interview this month is to hold a protest outside the White House. British extremist Anjem Choudary, who once said 'the flag of Islam will fly over the White House,' has announced he will lead a demonstration calling on Muslims to establish the Sharia law across America. The rally, planned for March 3, is to take place just weeks after his on-screen row with Fox News presenter Sean Hannity. Choudary, 43, called Americans 'the biggest criminals in the world today.' The former leader of outlawed group Islam4UK told the Daily Star 'we expect thousands to come out and support us.' Choudary said the March rally was organized by the Islamic Thinkers society, an extremist group based in New York. Two other British extremists, Abu Izzadeen and Sayful Islam, have also been asked to speak at the demonstration. Izzadeen is the hate preacher who caused fury last year when he called British soldiers 'murderers' the day he was released from jail after a three-and-a-half year sentence for inciting terrorism. Choudary told the newspaper: 'The event is a rally, a call for the Sharia, a call for the Muslims to rise up and re­establish the Islamic state in America.'

    However, whether the three will be able to enter the US, especially Izzadeen, remains to be seen. Even a tourist visa requires applicants to answer questions on whether they have been involved in acts of terrorism or plan to commit crimes in the US. 'This is a unique event taking place in Washington, outside the White House which, will garner huge support.' He hit US headlines just two weeks ago after his furious exchange with Sean Hannity on Fox News. The presenter became so enraged with his anti-American comments he ended the interview by calling him a 'sick, miserable, evil SOB. The East London-based cleric's anti-American stance is well-documented. Last year he led protesters in burning the American flag outside the US embassy in London on September 11. He added: 'I think the American people’s hearts and minds are open to receive Islam as an alternative way of life. We expect thousands to come out and support us.'







Prophecy Clock: Eschatology of Islam and Christianity Collide in Egypt

Feb. 19….(By Bill Wilson) The Lord says in Isaiah 55:8,9, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways...For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” Jesus said in Matthew 28:18, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” If we believe the word of God, then we must understand that all power rests in the hands of Christ, and that the Lord’s ways, thoughts, and methods are so far above ours that we cannot understand them completely. World events, therefore, as we usher in the end times and see prophecies maturing to fulfillment, will not be as man wishes them to be, nor will they be as they appear. The Western world looks at the Middle East and wants to believe that the protests to topple the governments in Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Syria, Yemen, Bahrain and others are freedom driven. They may just be in the minds of those who are protesting, but the freedom they are desiring is not the same as Western freedom as upheld in a Constitutional Republic or a representative democracy. It is the freedom of Islam, the peace of Islam. This freedom is the freedom of the made up and revamped moon god, allah, as defined by a deranged warlord and pedophile Mohammed in the 7th century. This so-called freedom is determined by Sharia law, where women and non-Muslims are subject to the Islamic Caliphate.

    Islam’s eschatology is similar to Christianity. Like most things of satan, however, Islam is an imitation leading many into deception. The 12th Imam is expected to return in the end times and bring the peace of Islam to the world for seven years with Jesus Christ as his prophet. On the 32nd anniversary of the overthrow of the Shah of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad gave a speech that the unrest in the Middle East is the beginning of the return of the 12th Imam. He said, “The final move has begun. We are in the middle of a world revolution managed by this dear (12th Imam). A great awakening is unfolding. One can witness the hand of the Imam in managing it.” He believes that America is trying to prevent this. Ahmadinejad has a very different view of the Egyptian uprising because he believes it will usher in the seven year reign of the 12th Imam, even with Christ as his prophet. This certainly parallels with what Christians believe about the antichrist, the seven year tribulation, and the eventual return of Christ. Those who minimize the prophecies of the end times believe the uprisings are spontaneous revolutions for freedom. Most believe Ahmadinejad to be delusional. These leaders also believe those who see Israel as God’s timepiece of prophecy are ignorant radicals. Notwithstanding what the worldly believe, the prophecy clock has moved forward with Middle East unrest. Discern the scriptures that you are not left with your lamp half full.



US Vetoes UN Resolution Condemning Israeli Settlements as Illegal


Feb. 19….(Jerusalem Post) The United States vetoed a UN resolution Friday that would have condemned "illegal" settlements beyond the Green Line and demanded an immediate halt to all settlement building. The 14 other Security Council members voted in favor of the resolution in Friday's vote, reflecting the wide support for the Palestinian-backed draft which had about 130 co-sponsors. The Palestinians insist they will not resume peace talks until Israel halts settlement building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which they desire as a capital. Israeli-Palestinian peace talks collapsed just weeks after they restarted in September because Israel ended a 10-month moratorium on settlement construction. Explaining the US veto, US Ambassador Susan Rice said the overriding issue for the Obama administration was whether the resolution would lead to renewed peace negotiations. "Unfortunately, this draft resolution risks hardening the positions of both sides," she said. Rice said the United States did not want the veto to be "misunderstood" as support for continued Israeli settlement construction. "We reject in the strongest terms the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity," Rice said. "For more than four decades, Israeli settlement activity in territories occupied in 1967 has undermined Israel’s security and corroded hopes for peace and stability in the region. Continued settlement activity violates Israel’s international commitments, devastates trust between the parties, and threatens the prospects for peace." The vetoed resolution would have reaffirmed "that the Israeli settlements established in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, are illegal and constitute a major obstacle to the achievement of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace." It would have reiterated previous council demands "that Israel, the occupying power, immediately and completely ceases all settlement activities..." The Palestinians rejected US efforts to substitute a weaker Security Council presidential statement for the legally binding resolution and decided to go ahead with a vote after Palestinian leaders meeting in Ramallah earlier Friday gave their unanimous approval. The call for a UN vote put US President Barack Obama in a difficult position, both internationally and domestically. It would have reaffirmed that the Security Council "does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity, which is a serious obstacle to the peace process.



Iran Stirs Pot in Bahrain, Gulf Shiite Revolts,

Feb. 18…(DEBKAfile Exclusive Report) Tanks rolled into Pearl Square, Manama, early Thursday, Feb. 17, personally commanded by King Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa in full military regalia, hours after his police firing live ammunition and tear gas failed to break up the tent city set up by protesters against his rule. At least four protesters were killed and dozens injured. The monarch has divided his small 9,000-strong army into three parts, one for Pearl Square, a second to guard the Bahrain Petroleum Co. refinery which produces 267,000 barrels of oil a day and forms the backbone of the Bahraini economy; and a third placed around the royal palace and the residential districts of the ruling elite. Al-Khalifa has two major difficulties to crack: For the first time, the king's biggest Shiite party, al-Wefaq has joined up with all 10 opposition parties to coordinate their protest action. The Shiite party leader, Sheik Ali Salman, says he is not seeking to establish an Islamic regime in Manama like the one in Tehran. Debkafile's sources say he is after one-man rule for himself and his words are about as reliable as the pledges of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood to eschew a role in government. But the Bahraini ruler's most acute problem is that while the Arabic and world media lump the protest movement in his kingdom with the pro-democracy uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, it is not the same in that it does not just represent genuine people power fighting an autocratic regime for reforms, but is fomented from Tehran. Iran's objective is to overthrow the Al-Khalifa regime and replace it with the first pro-Iranian government in the Arabian Gulf region. A Shiite regime in Manama will stir the Shiite minorities to revolt in other oil-rich Gulf states - and especially in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, where they make up around one-fifth of the population.

    In Tehran itself, meanwhile, Debkafile's Iranian sources report that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad early Thursday conferred with Revolutionary Guards and Basij leaders on ways to further crack down on opposition protests after two days of harsh measures. Since Monday, 1,400 protesters have been arrested and their whereabouts are unknown. At least two died of bullet wounds. The leaders of Iran's Islamic regime fear that the youngsters in Iranian cities will catch fire from the uprisings in Arab countries and be willing to fight for its overthrow. As a key deterrent, an increase in the number of executions of dissidents was agreed between Ahmadinejad, most of his aides, Prosecutor General  Mohseni-eEjehee, the commander Internal Security Forces, Mohammad Reza Radan Mohammad Reza Naghdi, and the ultra-radical Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, Chairman of the Constitution Committee. This measure later won the support of Ali Larijani, Speaker of the Majlis, who on Wednesday led 200 deputies in shouting for the two opposition Green Movement leaders Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi to be put to death. Debkafile's sources report: In the coming days, the world will be shown millions of young Iranians pouring into the streets of Tehran and other cities shouting pro-government slogans, alongside the executions of dozens of young Iranian democracy-seekers. By killing them, the regime will try and break the back of the Mousavi-Karroubi opposition movement. Judging on past form, they will not be deterred by international condemnation.



Bahrain Explodes in Violence


Feb. 18….(USA Today) Bahrain's leaders banned public gatherings and sent tanks into the streets Thursday, intensifying a crackdown that killed five anti-government protesters, wounded more than 200 and turned a hospital into a cauldron of anguish and rage against the monarchy.  Bahraini army tanks take position near Pearl Square in Manama on Thursday as crackdowns continued against protesters.

Bahrain's streets were mostly empty after the bloody clampdown, but thousands defied authorities by marching in cities in Libya and Yemen as the wave of political unrest continued in the wake of uprisings that toppled leaders in Egypt and Tunisia. The tiny kingdom of Bahrain is a key part of Washington's military counterbalance to Iran by hosting the US Navy's 5th Fleet. Bahrain's rulers and their Arab allies depict any sign of unrest among their Shiite populations as a move by neighboring Shiite-majority Iran to expand its clout in the region.

    While part of the recent revolt in the Arab world, the underlying tensions in Bahrain are decades old and pit the majority Shiites against the Sunni elite. After allowing several days of rallies in the capital of Manama by disaffected Shiites, the island nation's Sunni rulers unleashed riot police who stormed a protest encampment in Pearl Square before dawn, firing tear gas, beating demonstrators or blasting them with shotgun sprays of birdshot. Along with two who died in clashes with police Monday, the new killings brought the death toll this week in Bahrain to seven. The willingness to resort to violence against largely peaceful demonstrators was a sign of how deeply the monarchy fears the repercussions of a prolonged wave of protests. In the government's first public comment on the crackdown, Foreign Minister Khalid Al Khalifa said it was necessary because the demonstrators were "polarizing the country" and pushing it to the "brink of the sectarian abyss."

    The Obama administration expressed alarm over the violent crackdown. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called the foreign minister to register Washington's "deep concern" and urge restraint. Similar criticism came from Britain and the European Union, and Human Rights Watch urged Bahraini authorities to order security forces to stop attacks on peaceful protesters. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the US has been encouraging reforms in the region for some time. Analysts said the wave of unrest has so concerned leaders in the Gulf that they are willing to risk bloodshed. "It was one thing when it was happening in Tunisia and Egypt and another when it arrives on their doorstep," said Toby Jones, an expert on Bahrain at Rutgers University. "The Gulf rulers are closing ranks now and showing how they are prepared to deal with challenges to their power.

    The protesters have two main objectives: force the ruling Sunni monarchy to give up its control over top government posts and all critical decisions, and address deep grievances. Bahrain has a Muslim majority of Shiites who make up 70% of Bahrain's 500,000 citizens but claim they face systematic discrimination and poverty and are effectively blocked from key roles in public service and the military. The protests began with calls for the country's Sunni monarchy to loosen its grip but the demands have steadily grown bolder. Many protesters called for the government to provide more jobs and better housing, free all political detainees and abolish the system that offers Bahraini citizenship to Sunnis from around the Middle East. Increasingly, protesters also chanted slogans to wipe away the entire ruling dynasty that has led Bahrain for more than 200 years and is firmly backed by the Sunni sheiks and monarchs across the Gulf.

    The Interior Ministry warned Bahrainis in mobile phone text messages to stay off the streets. Banks and other key institutions did not open, and workers stayed home, unable or too afraid to pass through checkpoints to get to their jobs. Bahrain's parliament, minus opposition lawmakers who are staging a boycott, met in emergency session. One pro-government member, Jamila Salman, broke into tears. A leader of the Shiite opposition Abdul-Jalil Khalil said 18 lawmakers resigned to protest the killings.

    Elsewhere in the Mideast, several thousand Yemeni protesters defied appeals for calm from the military and the country's most influential Islamic cleric and marched through the capital of Sanaa, clashing with police and government supporters swinging batons and daggers. Protesters have marched for seven straight days in Sanaa and other cities in Yemen. They demand the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, a US ally, who has ruled the Arab world's poorest nation for 32 years.

    Libyans seeking to oust longtime leader Moammar Gadhafi demonstrated in five cities, defying a crackdown by security forces. Reports emerged that at least 20 demonstrators have been killed in two days of clashes with pro-government groups and security forces. A US rights group said at least 14 people have been arrested. In the capital of Tripoli, government supporters staged counter-demonstrations.



Israel Says Iran Warships Sent to Transit Suez Canal

Feb. 17….(AP) Israel's foreign minister claimed Wednesday that Iran is about to send two warships through the Suez Canal for the first time in years, calling it a "provocation," but he offered no evidence. The Egyptian authority that runs the canal denied it. Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said the ships would cross later Wednesday, en route to Syria. He did not say how he knew it. "This is a provocation that proves that Iranian audacity and insolence are increasing," he said in a statement. Ahmed el-Manakhli, head of Egypt's canal operations room, denied the claim, saying warships must get permission 48 hours before crossing, and "so far, we have not been notified." Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said in an e-mailed statement that "Israel is closely following the movements of the Iranian ships and has updated friendly states on the issue. Israel will continue to follow the ships movements." Security officials said they have known of Iranian ship movements for some time and expect them to arrive at the canal Thursday. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. In Washington, the Pentagon declined to comment. State Department spokesman PJ Crowley confirmed the presence of the ships in the area of the canal but would not say if that was considered provocative. "There are two ships in the Red Sea," he said, "What their intention is, what their destination is, I can't say." Meanwhile, the US aircraft carrier USS Enterprise was transiting the Red Sea on Wednesday, after passing through the Suez Canal on its way to the US Navy's 5th Fleet area to support combat operations in Afghanistan and other duties in the region, two officials in Washington said.



The Egyptian Supreme Council of the Armed Forces & Field Marshal Tantawi:

(A Recipe for Revolution or More of the Same?)

* Egypt is ruled today by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, under the leadership of Field Marshal Muhammad Hussein Tantawi. The country is now ruled under military law, something which the masses did not expect and which does not fit in with the idea of democratic reform.

    * WikiLeaks documents describe the Egyptian military as a parallel economy, a kind of "Military Inc." Military-owned companies, often run by retired generals, are active in water, olive oil, cement, construction (building roads and airports), hotel and gasoline industries. The military produces televisions and milk and bread.

    * Egypt has become a firm ally of the US since the end of the 1970s, assisting it in many facets of its anti-terrorist policy. Tantawi himself and his troops fought alongside American troops in Operation Desert Shield in Iraq in 1990.

    * At 76, Tantawi is no revolutionary. He and his colleagues have a lot to lose if they accede to actual demands for change. A transformation of the regime into a civilian democratic regime will not be viable for the military, and he will likely try his best to maintain the advantages his class has always enjoyed.

    * In the strategic field, it seems that Tantawi will remain loyal to Egypt's American ally, even though he may have to rethink the totality of the country's commitment in view of the behavior of the US administration toward Mubarak.

Feb. 17….(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs) Egypt is ruled today de-facto by a military team nominated for this task by former President Hosni Mubarak in order to administer the affairs of the state. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, under the leadership of Field Marshal Muhammad Hussein Tantawi, did not receive any instructions regarding the way to rule Egypt or the transition process from an authoritarian regime to a democracy, as demanded by the masses and the various political groups. More important, none of its members have ever received training in preparation to meet this challenge. Indeed, none of its members have experienced democracy and understand how to implement its principles in an Egyptian context. The Council is a team of career army officers who have been catapulted by events into a position they never dreamt of and were never prepared for.

    In 1952, a group of Egyptian army officers led by Lt.-Col. Gamal Abd el Nasser staged a coup that ousted a nearly two-century-old existing monarchy. Comparing Nasser's Military Council and Tantawi's Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, we find:

a. The Ruling Body: Whereas Nasser created the Military Council to control the government and rule the country, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces is a body mentioned clearly in the now suspended Egyptian Constitution. It is meant to be temporary and transitional. Tantawi has decided to leave the last government nominated by Mubarak in place until a new government is nominated by the Supreme Council.

b. The Age Factor: Nasser was 34 when he staged his coup, and his fellow officers were more or less the same age. Tantawi is 76, his chief of staff, Sami Hafez Anan, is 63, and his colleagues on the Supreme Council are all in their early sixties. Nasser's Free Officers were at the beginning of their military careers, whereas Tantawi and his colleagues are at the end of theirs.

c. Experience: Nasser and his colleagues were barely battalion commanders, whereas the only officer with more military experience was Naguib. Tantawi and his colleagues are more experienced. They include 14 generals, the commanders of the 10th largest army in the world. Except for Tantawi, all the others are relatively unknown. They include Chief of Staff Anan, Air Force Commander and Council spokesman Reda Mahmoud Hafez Mohammad, Navy Commander Mohab Mamish, and Air Defense Commander Abd el Aziz Seif el Din. They know how to run an army and how to protect its economic interests. They do not know how to run a state.

d. The State: Nasser and his colleagues replaced a monarchy with an authoritarian regime under the semblance of a republic in which military men were given a clear advantage in the economy and were nominated to lucrative jobs and positions. This system was perpetuated under subsequent presidents of Egypt to the point where one could say that the military possessed a country and not vice versa. WikiLeaks documents refer to US officials describing the Egyptian military as a parallel economy, a kind of "Military Inc.," involved in the production of electronics, household appliances, clothing and food.

e. Egypt's Strategic Setting: Nasser transformed Egypt into a regional power, creating new strategic alliances and new alignments. He associated himself with the former USSR after having been rejected by the West, was among the leaders of the non-aligned countries, established the defunct United Arab Republic with Syria. Nasser also lost two wars with Israel (1956 and 1967), the last one ending with the loss of the Sinai Peninsula to Israel.

    Tantawi comes from a different reality. Egypt has reversed its strategic alliance and has become a firm ally of the US since the end of the 1970s, assisting it in many facets of its anti-terrorist policy. Egypt is present in the international field and its troops serve under the UN flag. Tantawi himself and his troops fought alongside American troops in Operation Desert Shield in Iraq in 1990. For many years, Egypt has received a subsidy of $1.3 billion in US military aid. Egypt has signed a peace treaty with Israel, which restored Sinai to Egyptian sovereignty. Egypt sells gas and oil to Israel and maintains a "cold peace" with the Jewish state. Egypt has paid the price of its separate peace with Israel by suffering a setback in its relations with the radical Arab world. Since Sadat's presidency, Egypt has been on the defensive and stopped its subversive activities in the Arab world. Nevertheless, there are two areas where Tantawi will have to confront the issues as his predecessors did before him:

a. The Domestic Political Scene: The Egyptian military has been fighting the Muslim Brotherhood since 1954. Allies in the beginning, they turned enemies very quickly. After a failed assassination attempt against Nasser, he cracked down on the Brotherhood and arrested more than 20,000 of its members. Several were put on trial and executed. Sadat also enjoyed a brief honeymoon with the Muslim Brotherhood before cracking down on them. Ultimately, an extremist, fundamentalist organization succeeded in assassinating Sadat in October 1981. The Brotherhood did feel Mubarak's heavy hand, but unlike his predecessors, he allowed them to run for Parliament as "independents." Their success in getting almost 20 percent of the seats convinced Mubarak to restrain them under the emergency laws established since Sadat's assassination. All four presidents of the post-1952 era have ruled Egypt with an iron fist. All four ignored civil rights, human rights, freedom of speech, and manifestations of protest by justifying their policy as necessary to provide security, law, and order for reasons of state.

b. The Economy: This is Egypt's Achilles' heal. A high birth rate coupled with a low death rate has transformed Egypt into one of the most populous countries in the world. Some 80 million people living on a strip of land that represents barely 6 percent of the surface of Egypt. As one observer put it, Egypt is like a man who is running all the time in order to remain in the same place. Analyzing his conversations with the Americans as they appear in the WikiLeaks documents, Tantawi is very much a conservative, reluctant to embrace change and reform. A WikiLeaks document refers to a disgruntled mid-level Egyptian officer who described Tantawi as being "Mubarak's poodle." The Americans noted that "Tantawi has opposed both economic and political reforms has opposed policy initiatives he views as encouraging political and religious cleavages, and signaled on more than one occasion his willingness to use the military to control the Muslim Brotherhood." According to this report, Tantawi believes that economic reform fosters social instability by lessening Egyptian government control over prices and production. Tantawi was opposed to any conditioning of American aid on human rights or any other grounds.

    In conclusion, the American analyst stated that Tantawi was "change resistant." "Charming and courtly, he is nonetheless mired in a post-Camp David military paradigm that has served his cohort's narrow interest for the last three decades. He and Mubarak are focused on regime stability and maintaining the status quo through the end of their time. They simply do not have the energy, inclination, or world view to do anything differently."

    At 76, Tantawi is no revolutionary. He and his colleagues have a lot to lose if they accede to actual demands for change. A transformation of the regime into a civilian democratic regime will not be viable for the military, and he will likely try his best to maintain the advantages his class has always enjoyed. In the strategic field, it seems that Tantawi will remain loyal to Egypt's American ally, even though he may have to rethink the totality of the country's commitment in view of the behavior of the US administration toward Mubarak. Tantawi knows the Americans and they also know him from up close. Tantawi has already reaffirmed Egypt's commitments to all of its international treaties and agreements, which means that no change is expected in Israeli-Egyptian relations for the time being.



Libya Hit With Latest Sign of Arab World Democracy Unrest

(Hundreds demonstrate in Libya's second largest city, Benghazi, calling for Prime Minister al-Mahmoudi's resignation; official state media makes no mention of anti-government demonstrations)


Feb. 17….(Ha Aretz) Hundreds of Libyan protesters took to the streets of the country's second largest city on Wednesday demanding that the government be ousted, in a sign that the unrest of the region has spread to the North African Arab nation. Protesters in the port city of Benghazi chanted slogans demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi, witnesses said, clashing with government supporters. There were no calls for longtime leader Moammar Gadhafi to step down. On Monday, however, several opposition groups in exile called for the overthrow of Gadhafi and for a peaceful transition of power in Libya. As in the Egyptian and Tunisian uprisings, Libyans are using social networking websites like Facebook in calling for a nation-wide day of protests on Thursday. Libya's official news agency made no mention of the anti-government protests on Wednesday, saying only that supporters of Gadhafi were demonstrating in the capital, in Benghazi and in other cities. But the online edition of Libya's privately-owned Quryna newspaper, which is based in Benghazi, reported that a crowd of people angry at the arrest of a rights campaigner had gathered armed with petrol bombs and stones.



In Sharp Reversal, Obama Will Rebuke Israel in Security Council

Feb. 17….(Foreign Policy) The US informed Arab governments Friday that it will support a UN Security Council statement reaffirming that the 15-nation body "does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity," a move aimed at avoiding the prospect of having to veto a stronger Palestinian resolution calling the settlements illegal. But the Palestinian's rejected the American offer following a meeting late Wednesday of Arab representatives and said it is planning to press for a vote on its resolution Friday, according officials familiar with the issue. The decision to reject the American offer raised the prospects that the Obama Administration may cast its first ever veto in the UN Security Council. Still, the US offer signaled a renewed willingness to seek a way out of the current impasse, even if it requires breaking with its key ally and joining others in the council in sending a strong message to Israel to stop its construction of new settlements. In exchange for scuttling the Palestinian resolution, the United States would support the council statement, consider supporting a UN Security Council visit to the Middle East, the first since 1979, and commit to supporting strong language criticizing Israel's settlement policies in a future statement by the Middle East Quartet.

     The Arab Group was scheduled to meet this afternoon to formulate a formal response to the American offer. They said it was also not yet certain that the US offer would satisfy the Arab Group. The US concession comes as the Middle East is facing a massive wave of popular demonstrations that have brought down the leaders of Tunisia and Egypt and are posing a challenge to governments in Algeria, Bahrain, and Iran.



Iranian Warships transit Suez for Syria, Seek to Tighten Siege on Israel

Feb. 17….(DEBKAfile Exclusive Report) Twenty-four hours after Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the Egyptian upheaval had no military connotations for Israel, the Iranian frigate Alvand and cruiser Kharg transited the Suez Canal on their way to Syria Wednesday night, Feb. 16. Their passage was termed "a provocation" by Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. In Beirut, Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah said he was looking forward to Israel going to war on Lebanon because then his men would capture Galilee. Israel was closely monitoring the Iranian flotilla. Up until now, Saudi Arabia, in close conjunction with Egypt and its President Hosni Mubarak, led the Sunni Arab thrust to contain Iranian expansion, especially in the Persian Gulf. However, the opening of a Saudi port to war ships of the Islamic Republic of Iran for the first time in the history of their relations points to a fundamental shift in Middle East trends in consequence of the Egyptian uprising.  It was also the first time Cairo has permitted Iranian warships to transit Suez from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean, although Israeli traffic in the opposite direction had been allowed. Iran made no secret of its plants to expand its naval and military presence beyond the Persian Gulf and Red Sea to the Mediterranean via Suez: On February 2, Iran's Deputy Navy Commander Rear Admiral Gholam-Reza Khadem Biqam announced the flotilla's mission was to "enter the waters of the Red Sea and then be dispatched to the Mediterranean Sea."  However, Israeli military intelligence which failed to foresee the Egyptian upheaval and its policy-makers ignored the Iranian admiral's announcement and its strategic import, just as they failed to heed the significance of the Iranian flotilla's docking in Jeddah. Debkafile's military sources report that Iran is rapidly seizing the fall of the Mubarak regime in Cairo and the Saudi King Abdullah's falling-out with President Barack Obama as an opportunity not to be missed for establishing a foothold along the Suez Canal and access to the Mediterranean for six gains:

1. To cut off, even partially, the US military and naval Persian Gulf forces from their main route for supplies and reinforcements;

2. To establish an Iranian military-naval grip on the Suez Canal, through which 40 percent of the world's maritime freights pass every day:

3. To bring an Iranian military presence close enough to menace the Egyptian heartland of Cairo and the Nile Delta and squeeze it into joining the radical Iranian-Syrian-Iraqi-Turkish alliance;

4. To thread a contiguous Iranian military-naval line from the Persian Gulf to the Red Sea through the Suez Canal and the Gaza Strip and up to the ports of Lebanon, where Hizballah has already seized power and toppled the pro-West government.

5. To eventually sever the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, annex it to the Gaza Strip and establish a large Hamas-ruled Palestinian state athwart the Mediterranean, the Gulf of Aqaba and the Red Sea.

By comparison, a Fatah-led Palestinian state on the West Bank within the American orbit be politically and strategically inferior.

6. To tighten the naval and military siege on Israel.



Egypt's Oil and Gas Pipelines Are Idle

Feb. 16….(DEBKAfile Exclusive Report ) The SudMed pipeline which carries Saudi and Persian Gulf oil to the Egyptian Mediterranean is at a standstill. The military rulers in Cairo and the SudMed owners, Arab Petroleum Pipelines, say it is working normally. But debkafile's sources have confirmed that the pipeline, which carries 3.1 million barrels of oil per day from the Red Sea northwest along 322 kilometers west of the Delta up to Egypt's Mediterranean coast, was idle Monday and Tuesday morning, Feb. 14 and 15, due to a general strike by its Egyptian workers as part of their anti-regime protest. Nonetheless, APP issued a statement that "Operations at the pipeline terminals at Ain Sukhna on the Red Sea and Sidi Kerir in the Mediterranean were running normally, with tankers being accommodated without delays." This week, US oil sources played down the impact of the SuMed stoppage on world energy and tanker freight prices. A spokesman of the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) informed Congress Monday: "The increase in tanker requirements traffic would be modest in the context of current global oil shipment flows." He did not mention the halted flow through the Egyptian pipeline or that most of the Egyptians employed at the Suez Canal and pipeline facilities are on strike. He only commented: "A disruption in oil shipments through the Suez Canal or SuMed pipeline would not add much to costs," without saying how much it would affect world fuel prices. Debkafile's Cairo sources report that military rule officials in Cairo opened negotiations Monday for settling the wage claims of the workers, whose strikes have paralyzed key sectors of the economy, including the oil pipeline and the Suez Canal. The military junta has intimated that emergency rules banning strike action may be issued should the workers stand by their refusal to go back to work. Our sources add that another pipeline, Egypt's main gas line to Israel and Jordan, also remains idle, not because of strikes but sabotage. Feb. 5, Hamas blew up its Sinai facilities at two points. Although Israel has lost 43 percent of the gas it needs to power its electricity, its spokesmen, like the Egyptians, have stopped giving out information about a timeframe for repairs and the resumption of supplies, staying mum out of concern for the military coup's impact on the world's financial markets. Spokesmen in Amman admitted Monday that the flow to Jordan had been suspended, contradicting an earlier claim there had been no stoppage. The Energy Minister Mahmoud Al-Ees said Jordanian power stations had switched from gas to oil and diesel, costing the royal treasury an extra $28 million a week. debkafile's sources report that Israel has made the same conversion, although no officials have disclosed how much this will cost the taxpayer. It is estimated that an extra $80-90 million a week, i.e. $320 million per month, has been added to Israel's fuel bill for keeping power running normally for the time being until the military junta's intentions are known. According to an initial statement from Cairo after the explosion and before the military coup, Egypt means to keep the gas for its own use in breach of its contracts with Israel and Jordan.



Teheran clamps down on pro-reform protests; 1 shot dead

(Police fire tear gas to quell first major rally since 2009; The rally is the first major show of strength for Iran’s cowed opposition in more than a year.)

Feb. 15….(Jerusalem Post) One protester has been shot dead by police officers during a banned protest taking place in Iran's capital, Tehran, Monday, semi-official Iranian news agency Fars reported. Clashes between Iranian police and tens of thousands of protesters wracked central Tehran on Monday, with security forces beating and firing tear gas at opposition supporters. The opposition called the demonstration in solidarity with Egypt’s popular revolt that a few days earlier forced president Hosni Mubarak to resign after nearly 30 years in office. The rally is the first major show of strength for Iran’s cowed opposition in more than a year. Police used tear gas against the protesters in central Tehran’s Enghelab (Revolution) Square and in Imam Hossein Square, as well as in other nearby main streets. Demonstrators responded by setting garbage cans on fire to protect themselves from the stinging white clouds. Security forces cut phone lines and blockaded the home of an opposition leader in attempts to stop him from attending the rally. Police and militiamen poured onto the streets of Tehran to challenge the marches, which officials worry could turn into demonstrations against Iran’s ruling system. “We support you, Mousavi,” some of the demonstrators chanted, referring to the prominent opposition leader. “An Iranian dies but doesn’t accept humiliation” and “Death to the dictator,” they said, referring to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton expressed support for the tens of thousands of protesters in Iran’s capital, saying they “deserve to have the same rights that they saw being played out in Egypt and are part of their own birthright.” Speaking to reporters after meeting House Speaker John Boehner, Clinton says she and others in Barack Obama’s administration “very clearly and directly support the aspirations of the people who are in the streets” of Tehran. She spoke of the “hypocrisy” of the Iranian government that hailed the protests in Egypt but has tried to suppress opposition at home. At least 25 people were treated for injuries, and one man died after being found on the street with severe head trauma, according to family members. Security personnel on motorcycles could be seen chasing protesters through the streets, according to eyewitnesses.  Bruce Maddy-Weitzman, a senior Middle East researcher at Tel Aviv University’s Moshe Dayan Center, said he views Egypt-style unrest in Iran as unlikely in the short-term. “Can it happen in Iran? Certainly not today, and probably not in 18 days, or anything approaching it,” he told The Jerusalem Post, while noting that the possibility of shaking the regime’s hold on power has already been proven, as long as there is a powerful enough trigger. “What will be the trigger? The last time, it was the fixing of election results,” he said. Maddy-Weitzman noted that Iran’s economy is qualitatively different from that of Egypt. “The Iranian economy is less vulnerable to mass popular protests, in one sense, because it has oil,” he told the Post. “For popular protest to succeed in Iran, there has to be a broad alliance of disparate social and political forces. The 2009 protest wanted reform and/or democracy while maintaining an Islamic Republic.” More ambitious demands on the part of protesters are unlikely, he said. Hagai M. Segal, a lecturer on Middle Eastern Affairs at New York University in London, also highlighted stark differences between Egypt and Iran. In the latter, he said, there are security forces eager to do “exactly what the Egyptian military were not willing to do – beat, and even shoot and kill, citizens protesting on the streets.”

    Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and fiercely loyalist Basij militia are happy to do so for the regime, and even consider it their “sacred duty,” he said. Try as protesters may, that difference all but precludes the possibility of Iran seeing a successful revolt similar to Egypt’s, Segal said. Iran’s security clampdown is reminiscent of the backlash that crushed a wave of massive protests after Ahmadinejad’s disputed reelection in June 2009. But opposition supporters revived a tactic from the unrest, shouting “Allahu Akbar” from rooftops and balconies into the early hours Monday, in a sign of defiance toward Iran’s leadership.



Tehran Beats Back New Protests

Feb. 15….(Wall Street Journal) Iranian police used tear gas and electric prods to crack down on the country's biggest antigovernment protests in at least a year, as demonstrators buoyed by activism across the Middle East returned to the country's streets by the tens of thousands Monday. The day of planned antigovernment rallies began largely peacefully, according to witnesses, with protesters marching silently or sitting and chanting. But as demonstrators' ranks swelled, police and antiriot forces lined the streets, ordered shops to shut down and responded at times with force, according to witnesses and opposition websites, in a repeat of the official crackdown that helped snuff out months of spirited opposition rallies a year ago. By day's end, online videos showed garbage bins on fire, protesters throwing rocks at the police and crowds clashing with motorcycle-mounted members of the pro-regime Basij militia. Thousands of Iranians gathered in several locations across Tehran Monday, heeding calls in recent days by opposition leaders to demonstrate in solidarity with Egyptian and Tunisian protesters. Farnaz Fassihi has details. Monday's protests come as calls for regime change have led to the popular ousters of Egypt's Hosni Mubarak and Tunisia's Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali. They mark a broadening from Iranian rallies that drew hundreds of thousands through 2009 and early 2010. Those rallies targeted what opposition leaders said was a flawed presidential election that they say unfairly returned President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power. Monday's protests, by comparison, demanded that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the core of power in the Islamic Republic, step down. In Tehran's Enghelab Avenue, the main route for the rally, a crowd of young men and women on Monday evening stomped on a giant banner depicting Mr. Khamenei and set it on fire, a sign of deepest disrespect in the Muslim world. Videos of the scene showed crowds cheering in response.

     Iran's government and its opposition alike have sought to identify themselves with the mood of change sweeping the Middle East. Iranian officials sought to paint this year's Arab revolts as Islamic uprisings like the Iranian revolution that toppled the US-backed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi more than 30 years ago. Iran's opposition protesters, meanwhile, have renewed their challenge to the government, emboldened by rallies led by a similar cadre of educated, tech-savvy youth seeking better economic opportunity and more political freedoms. Those who saw the rallies in Tehran placed the number of protesters in the capital in the tens of thousands. Witnesses in the cities of Mashad, Isfahan and Tabriz saw crowds they estimated at thousands of demonstrators each, with blog reports and other online dispatches placing overall participation in such cities at over 10,000 each. Iranian officials have all but banned reporting on anti-regime protests, making it difficult to estimate not only the size of crowds, but the number of casualties, fatalities and arrests.

     The Fars News Agency, affiliated with the country's Revolutionary Guards, reported that a "group of thugs" commissioned by the US and Israel had taken to the streets to cause riots. Fars News said protestors had shot and killed one person and injured several others. Iran's government "over the last three weeks has constantly hailed what went on in Egypt, and now, when given the opportunity to afford their people the same rights, once again illustrate their true nature," Mrs. Clinton told reporters in Washington. "We wish the opposition and the brave people in the streets across cities in Iran the same opportunity that they saw their Egyptian counterparts seize in the last week." This year's uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt have inspired populations across the Middle East, showing how rulers once thought invulnerable could be toppled in a wave of popular discontent. Iran's regime has so far provided a counterexample, as it has shown less reluctance to take a violent line against its people. Opposition groups and human-rights organizations say more than 100 people were killed and more than 5,000 jailed in Iran's demonstrations of late 2009 and early 2010. Now, analysts say, revolts in Egypt and Tunisia have galvanized Iranian protesters around the goal of regime change. "It's very clear that we are now way beyond a post-election crisis," said Hamid Dabashi, professor of Iranian studies at Columbia University. "People are going after the regime."



FBI: 100 Percent Chance of WMD Attack

Feb. 15….(Newsmax) The probability that the US will be hit with a weapons of mass destruction attack at some point is 100 percent, Dr. Vahid Majidi, the FBI’s assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate, tells Newsmax. Such an attack could be launched by foreign terrorists, lone wolves who are terrorists, or even by criminal elements, Majidi says. It would most likely employ chemical, biological, or radiological weapons rather than a nuclear device. As it is, Majidi says, American intelligence picks up hundreds of reports each year of foreign terrorists obtaining WMD. When American forces invaded Afghanistan, they found that al-Qaida was working on what Majidi calls a “nascent” weapons of mass destruction effort involving chemical and biological weapons. In every other case so far, the reports of foreign terrorists obtaining WMD have turned out to be unfounded. However, Majidi’s directorate within the FBI investigates more than a dozen cases in the US each year where there was intent to use WMD. For example, in 2008, the FBI arrested Roger Bergendorff, who was found to have ricin and anarchist literature. Ricin kills cells by inhibiting protein synthesis. Within several days, the liver, spleen, and kidneys of a person who inhales or ingests ricin stop working, resulting in death. “The notion of probability of a WMD attack being low or high is a moot point because we know the probability is 100 percent,” Majidi says. “We’ve seen this in the past, and we will see it in the future. There is going to be an attack using chemical, biological or radiological material.” Even a WMD attack that does not kill a great number of people would have a crushing psychological impact.

    Majidi says the kind of threat that keeps him awake at night is one from a lone wolf. That’s because the FBI, along with the CIA and foreign partners, has developed a number of ways to detect plots by al-Qaida and other foreign terrorists. Majidi says the most remote threat is an attack with a nuclear device. A terrorist bent on detonating a nuclear weapon would have to successfully negotiate a series of steps, Majidi says. He would have to find an expert with the right knowledge. He would have to find the right material. He would have to bring the device into the country, and he would have to evade detection programs. “While the net probability is incredibly low, a 10 kiloton device would be of enormous consequence,” Majidi says. “So even with those enormously low probabilities, we still have to have a very effective and integrated approach trying to fight the possibility.” Experts are constantly being quoted with estimates of the amount of enriched uranium that could be unaccounted for from Soviet Union stockpiles and could be used to make nuclear weapons. Majidi says no one knows the actual amount.

    A terrorist who stole a nuclear weapon from a country that has one would have an easier time than if he tried to make one. “One of the things you have to understand is that nuclear markets are very ambiguous markets,” Majidi says. “There are as many bad guys trying to sell material as there are good guys trying to make sure that that doesn’t happen.” Of one thing Majidi is sure: “There’s a probability of 100 percent that a WMD event will happen.”



Why Worship Democracy?

Feb. 15….(Olive Tree) What will happen in Egypt?  Democracy will prevail.  Why are we so happy about that?  Democracy may well mean deeper convulsions of anti-Semitic madness, not “state-sponsored” but rather genuinely popular. Winston Churchill grabbed the nub of democracy when he said:  “It is said that democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others that have been tried.” We Americans invest far too much hope in the virtue of democracy. President Bush launched “Operation Iraqi Freedom.” Did he really mean that?  His actions seemed to support “Operation Iraqi Democracy.”  Freedom would mean that the ancient Christian community could practice its faith without terror.  Freedom would mean that Kurds, who are not Arabs and who are not all Moslems, could create their own nation.  Freedom would mean that the Government of Iraq would melt away as the bazaar rebuilt Iraq into a hive of private enterprise. The problem with democracy worship is that the “Will of the People” has no special moral authority.



In Wake of Egypt, Fatah Announces Elections

Feb. 14….( With Mahmoud Abbas illegally usurping the “presidency” of the Palestinian Authority ever since his four-year term expired a year ago, the PA has finally announced that it will hold general elections “by September at the latest.” The announcement was made Saturday night by Yasser Abed Rabbo, a top Abbas aide. Hamas, the main rival of the Abbas-led Fatah movement, immediately announced that it would not participate in the election. A spokesman for Iran-backed Hamas, whose charter calls for the destruction of Israel, said the announcement was a “conspiracy against the Palestinian people." He said the elections would be “illegitimate, and that "Hamas will not participate or recognize or give any cover for this election.”

    The Hamas refusal is not expected to last for long, if the elections are actually held, as Hamas celebrated when Egypt overthrew Hosni Mubarak and adopted democracy. On the other hand, the Hamas-allied Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt has also announced that it will not take part in elections in Egypt. Fatah and Hamas have long been at odds, especially after Hamas fought Fatah in 2007 and conquered Gaza. At least 118 people were killed and more than 550 wounded during the week-long battles. Hamas had won the legislative elections the year before, though Abbas retained the title of PA Chairman. The decision to hold elections is generally seen as an attempt to fall in line with the winds of change blowing throughout the Arab Middle East. The Abbas government is not viewed as particularly popular, and the loss of his Egyptian ally Hosni Mubarak does not help matters. Negotiations with Israel are not expected to move forward in the coming months; in fact, the PA has announced that it will ask the United Nations to unilaterally recognize it as a nation by this coming September.



Egypt Reportedly Losing Control of Sinai

Feb. 14….(Jerusalem Post) Israelis urged to return home for fear that peninsula will become launching pad for terror attacks as Egyptian police abandon posts. Concern is mounting in Israel over reports that the Egyptian police force has abandoned the Sinai Peninsula in face of growing Beduin violence, and that the territory will turn into a breeding ground for global jihad. According to information that has arrived in Israel, Egyptian police authorities have abandoned dozens of police stations throughout the peninsula after they were attacked by Beduin armed with missiles and assault rifles. This concern was behind Israel’s decision two weeks ago to allow the deployment of 800 Egyptian soldiers in Sharm e-Sheikh and Rafah. Additional requests since then have been rejected. In recent years, the Sinai hasturned into a launching pad for attacks against Israel, including by Hamas, which several months ago launched Katyusha rockets into Eilat from the Egyptian territory.

    The Egyptian military has for years encountered difficulty in controlling the Beduin population, which does not hold allegiance to the Egyptian government in Cairo. “The Sinai is already known as a lawless land,” a senior defense official said over the weekend. “There is real concern that if the Egyptians don’t get the Sinai back under their control, it could develop into a major threat to Israel.” Israel, which has urged all its citizens to leave the Sinai immediately, is particularly concerned about the possibility that Hamas will take hold of parts of the peninsula and use it to launch attacks into Israel via the 240-kilometer long Israeli- Egyptian border, with an emphasis on Eilat. There is also concern that without a real Egyptian security presence in the Sinai, Hamas will be able to increase the amount and quality of weaponry and explosives it smuggles into the Gaza Strip via Egypt. Israel has shared these concerns with its allies.



US Pressures Iran to Allow Protests

(Former Iranian Prince Reza Says 'Tehran Moment' Coming)

Feb. 14….(Fox News) After popular uprisings toppled regimes in Egypt and Tunisia, the Obama administration appears to be fanning the embers of unrest in Iran, calling on the country's theocratic regime to permit a new wave of demonstrations against its rule. Iran, after cracking down on dissent following the disputed 2009 election, is once again vowing to stifle the opposition as anti-government organizers call for a nationwide march Monday. With questions swirling about what regimes, if any, will be claimed next by the regional uprising in the Middle East, the Iranian government is preemptively showing its determination not to become one of them. But while the Obama Administration, which did not openly back Iranian protesters in 2009, is hardly calling for regime change, top officials have made clear that the people of Iran should have their voices heard, just as they did in Cairo.

    Iranian dissidents are holding out hope that, if the government faces global pressure, the momentum could shift in their favor. Reza Pahlavi, the eldest son of the last shah of Iran who was deposed in the 1979 revolution, told Fox News on Sunday that the outcome in Egypt must be "emboldening" for his country. Though some analysts warn Iran has proved it has the capacity and the will to strike down the opposition, Pahlavi suggested some in the Iranian military might not stand by the regime to the end. "Our time as a region has finally come," Pahlavi said. "My compatriots in Tehran want to have their Tehran moment, as Egyptians had their Cairo moment. Iran's turn is going to come up soon as well." He urged "free countries" to drop their attempts at dialogue with Iran and offer more support for those trying to effect a change in leadership. "The people are now fighting tooth and nail to defend their freedom totally under-armed, totally underequipped," Pahlavi told Fox News. "The least we could do from the point of view of the free world is to stand by them, tell them that they're not alone, that their voices have been heard."

    Obama administration officials have, at this point, said their voices should be heard. National Security Adviser Tom Donilon issued a statement Saturday urging Iran not to follow through with stated plans to crush the protesters. "By announcing that they will not allow opposition protests, the Iranian government has declared illegal for Iranians what it claimed was noble for Egyptians," Donilon said. "We call on the government of Iran to allow the Iranian people the universal right to peacefully assemble, demonstrate, and communicate that's being exercised in Cairo." That was after Vice President Biden on Friday called for Iran to "let your people march, let your people speak, release your people from jail." White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, on his last day on the job Friday, echoed that point. "I think what you've seen in the region is the government of Iran, quite frankly, scared of the will of its people," he said. From Bahrain to Yemen to Algeria, Middle Eastern and African regimes are facing continuing unrest in the wake of the Tunisian and Egyptian revolts. Some of those countries, notably Yemen, are cooperating with the United States in counter-terrorism operations. Though President Obama welcomed the political transition in Egypt, the United States had been aligned with ousted President Hosni Mubarak's regime for three decades. The United States faces no such dilemma with Iran, though the Obama Administration repeatedly has tried to engage with the country over its nuclear program, to little result. Former National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley noted that the last time Iranians tried to rise up against their government, "they were brutally repressed." That possibility surely has the administration hedging as it monitors the stirrings of Iranian dissidents two years later. But Hadley suggested the dynamic could be different this time. "The question is what the Iranian people will say when they see Egypt. And I think an answer will be, if the Egyptian people can have their freedom ... why not us?"



Is Obama Anxious for Islamist Rule in Egypt?

Feb. 14….(Israel Today) Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Thursday reassured his nation that there will be genuinely free and democratic elections in September, and that he will not be running for president. Mubarak also transfered most of his important powers to new Vice President Omar Suleiman, but insisted he would not step down at this time. Hours later, the Egyptian army issued a statement that it would guarantee that Mubarak kept his word. All that wasn’t good enough for US President Barak Obama, who issued his own statement expressing frustration that Mubarak had not thrown in the towel and created a power vacuum. “Too many Egyptians remain unconvinced that the government is serious about a genuine transition to democracy,” insisted Obama, who described Mubarak’s promises as neither “immediate, meaningful nor sufficient.” Meanwhile, Obama’s top officials continued to lay the groundwork for a Muslim Brotherhood takeover in Egypt that would be accepted and recognized by the international community. In what was either an unprecedented display of naivete or a revelation of what the Obama Administration’s true agenda is, US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper had this to say during a House Intelligence Committee hearing on Thursday: “The Muslim Brotherhood is a very heterogeneous group, largely secular, which has eschewed violence and has decried al-Qaeda as a perversion of Islam. There is no overarching agenda, particularly in pursuit of violence, at least internationally.” In an interview with Fox News earlier in the week, Obama himself refused to describe the Muslim Brotherhood as an Islamist threat. He also brushed off speculation that the Brotherhood will take over if Mubarak is toppled, arguing that the group is not a majority in Egypt. The president’s reasoning completely ignored the fact that neither Hamas nor Hizballah enjoy majority support among their respective peoples, yet managed to rise to power anyway.

    The White House appears determined to downplay the severity of what a Muslim Brotherhood takeover would mean. But the Brotherhood itself has been kind enough to clarify exactly what it is all about. In a recent interview with Japanese television, Rashad al-Bayumu, the group’s second-in-command, stated clearly that if the Brotherhood comes to power it will cancel Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel. A few years ago, Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohammed Mahdi ‘Akef told the Egyptian newspaper Al-Karama that ultimately, the Islamic, and not the Western, version of democracy will rule in Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood’s official website continues to promote jihad as the duty of all Muslims who wish to achieve global domination for their religion and the establishment of a new Islamic empire. The book “Jihad is the Way,” written by former Brotherhood leader Mustafa Mashhur, continues to be a guiding text for the group. In it, Muslims are told that Allah wants them to use all means at their disposal to conduct jihad with the goal of eventual global domination. The book, which was written in 1995, has been translated by Palestinian Media Watch and is being posted online. Israeli officials have expressed concern and even outrage at the behavior of the Obama Administration, warning that a Brotherhood-led Egypt, or even an Egypt under the influence of a Muslim Brotherhood operating behind the scenes would represent a new “Islamic Republic,” like Iran. Israel has not been alone in feeling this way. The leaders of Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates all reportedly called Obama this week to urge him to lay off Mubarak, lest the Muslim Brotherhood move in to take his place.



Rumsfeld Warns of Iran, N. Korea Electromagnetic Pulse Attack

Feb. 14….(Newsmax) Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s new memoir, “Known and Unknown,” sets the record straight on Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction and warns of impending dangers from countries such as Iran and North Korea. During an interview with NewsmaxTV, Rumsfeld vigorously defended the George W. Bush administration’s judgment of the threat from Saddam and blasted critics who accused the president of lying about Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction. Rumsfeld said he is worried about the threat from an electromagnetic pulse attack from countries such as Iran and North Korea. “We’ve thrown away the shoeboxes with the 3-by-5 cards,” he said, “so that cyberwarfare, and electromagnetic pulses and the things that can avoid competition with large armies and large navies and large air forces clearly have leverage, an advantage. And because of that, they’re attractive” to America’s enemies.






Israel's Military Caught Unready for Sinai Front

Feb. 12….(DEBKAfile Exclusive Analysis) As Cairo's Tahrir Square rejoiced over Hosni Mubarak exit, Israel counted the cost of losing its most important strategic partner in the region. Thirty-two years of peace with Egypt leave Israel militarily unprepared for the unknown and unexpected on their 270-kilometer long southern border: the current generation of Israeli combatants and commanders has no experience of desert combat, its armor is tailored for operation on its most hostile fronts: Iran, Lebanon's Hizballah and Syria. It is short of intelligence on the Egyptian army and its commanders and, above all, no clue to the new rulers' intentions regarding Cairo's future relations with Israel and security on their Sinai border. The Israeli Defense Forces are trained and equipped to confront Iran and fight on the mountainous terrain of Lebanon and Syria. After signing peace with Egypt in 1979, Israel scrapped the combat brigades trained for desert warfare, whose last battle was fought in the 1973 war, and stopped treating the Egyptian army as a target of military intelligence. Israel's high command consequently knows little or nothing about any field commanders who might lead units if they were to be deployed in Sinai. Israel's policy-makers and military strategists are meanwhile acting on two basic assumptions:

1.  Egypt's new military rulers will not be keen to lose the US $1.3 billion military aid package or their access to state of the art technology, and the Obama administration will make continued assistance conditional on upholding the peace treaty with Israel. Debkafile's military and Washington sources are not absolutely sure President Obama will even lay down this condition or that, if he does, the Egyptian army will accept it. Even if the peace relations are left in place during the regime's first uncertain two or three months in Cairo, it is by no means certain they will survive thereafter. The new rulers may be influenced by oil-rich Saudi Arabia's latest policy turn. As Debkafile reported exclusively Thursday, Feb. 10, King Abdullah was so incensed by Washington's abandonment of his friend and ally Hosni Mubarak that he ordered the kingdom's diplomatic and military ties with Iran upgraded and strengthened. It is anyone's guess today whether the generals in Cairo opt for Washington or decide to patch up Mubarak's quarrel with the ayatollahs instead. Riyadh can easily afford to make up for the loss of American aid to Egypt. Abdullah made that same offer to Mubarak if he stood fast against American pressure for his resignation, promising him a Saudi dollar for American dollar.

2.  Israel is counting on Gen. Omar Suleiman, overlord of Egypt's intelligence branches and for eight days, Mubarak's Vice President, to keep faith after many years of close cooperation in safeguarding the peace relationship. Suleiman is one of the top three members of the High Army Council now ruling Egypt, alongside Defense Minister Field Marshal Mohammed Tantawi and Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Sami Al-Anan. Debkafile: Israel may be barking up the wrong tree. When Suleiman was elevated to VP, Jerusalem hoped he would come out of the Egyptian uprising as the coming man. Friday, Mubarak's resignation left him stripped of his new title. His footing in the top army command council is far from certain. It is to be expected that once firmly in power, the top generals will start jockeying for the top spot. Suleiman and Tantawi have long been rivals and Mubarak often stepped in to resolve their arguments, usually in the former's favor which the latter won't forget. Since Tantawi is no fan of Israel, Suleiman may decide to promote his own chances by avoiding being seen as overly pro-Israeli or pro-American. Jerusalem may therefore find a closed door when seeking him out. This is bound to happen soon because of the chaotic free-for-all launched in Sinai while all eyes were on Cairo.

    Indeed while a military coup was in progress in the Egyptian capital, Iran, Hamas and Al Qaeda's Middle East networks were fully engaged in violently reducing the Egyptian presence outside the southern Sharm el-Sheik pocket and beginning a process of annexation to the Gaza Strip starting in North Sinai. This is part of Iran's new strategy, seized on during the upsets in Cairo, to expand the Hamas state and shift the crux of Palestinian governance from Ramallah to Gaza City. While this was going on, Hamas and Al Qaeda terrorists along with drug and human traffickers were free to infiltrate Israel, using the flow of thousands of illegal job-seekers smuggled across the lawless Sinai border.

    Even the limited control Suleiman asserted over this traffic has gone. The Netanyahu government in Jerusalem must therefore think fast and make quick decisions about Sinai. Will the military regime in Cairo take action to bring Sinai under control? Or will Israel be reduced to sending drones or special forces across the border for covert action to cut down the threats building up to its security? Suddenly, Israel finds itself in a situation akin to the US-led forces in Afghanistan, which have in the last year stepped up their drone attacks on Taliban and al Qaeda strongholds in Waziristan, to the detriment of US relations with Pakistan. Our military sources note that Field Marshall Tantawi has never attached much strategic importance to the Sinai Peninsula, which is why Mubarak transferred responsibility for its security from the army to Suleiman. Its reversion to the army and the field marshal would be bad news for Israel and its future relations with Egypt.



Ex-Israeli Official: Mideast Dominoes Point to War

Feb. 12….(Newsmax) George Birnbaum, an international political consultant who once served as chief of staff to former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is warning that a domino-style collapse of moderate Arab regimes could lead Israel to war. Birnbaum, an expert in global politics, cited Friday’s collapse of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and the growing turmoil in nearby Jordan as ominous signs for Israel. Israel’s neighbor on the other side of the West Bank is ruled by King Abdullah II, a constitutional monarch who is Hashemite, a minority. Abdullah reigns over a population that is 70 percent Palestinian. “He had to relieve his government a few weeks ago,” Birnbaum told host Stuart Varney of Fox News on Friday. “If that country goes, and in Bahrain and other countries, suddenly you’re going to find Israel in a similar position it was in 1948, where it’ll be isolated, surrounded by Islamic countries looking to see its destruction, with the one exception that Israel has the ability to defend itself this time. “But that creates another problem,” he added, “which is a regional if not greater war that the world will have to face.” Birnbaum said Israel could be “in great danger.”



Islamists Welcome 'Day of Victory'

(Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood says main goal of revolution achieved, Hamas demands change)

Feb. 11….(YNET) A senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's biggest opposition group, said Egyptians had achieved the main goal of their popular uprising after President Hosni Mubarak resigned on Friday. "I salute the Egyptian people and the martyrs. This is the day of victory for the Egyptian people. The main goal of the revolution has been achieved," Mohamed el-Katatni, former leader of the Brotherhood's parliamentary bloc, told Reuters. Katatni said the Brotherhood awaits the next steps to be taken by the Higher Military Council, which has taken charge of the country's affairs after Mubarak's decision. Meanwhile, Palestinians in Gaza let off fireworks and shot into the air to celebrate Mubarak's departure Friday, and Hamas called on Egypt's new rulers to change his policies.  "The resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is the beginning of the victory of the Egyptian revolution," said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri. "Such a victory was the result of the sacrifices and the steadfastness of the Egyptian people," he told Reuters. "We call upon the new Egyptian leadership to take an immediate decision to lift the blockade of Gaza and open Rafah (border) crossing permanently to allow people's free movement and in order for the reconstruction process of Gaza to begin," said Abu Zuhri. Fireworks also lit up Beirut's sky Friday following the news from Egypt. Celebratory gunfire could be heard in the Shiite dominated areas in south Lebanon and in southern Beirut.On al-Manar TV, Hezbollah's television station, Egyptian anchor Amr Nassef cried emotionally on the air and said: "Allahu Akbar, the Pharaoh is dead. Am I dreaming? I'm afraid to be dreaming." Hezbollah later congratulated the Egyptian people over its "historic victory," and Iran did the same, stressing that the Egyptian people achieved a "great victory."



Mubarak Slammed Obama in Phone Call

(Ousted Egyptian leader slams 'misguided' US quest for Mideast democracy in talk with Labor Knesset member)

Feb. 11….(YNET) Hosni Mubarak had harsh words for the United States and President Obama in what he described as its misguided quest for democracy in the Middle East in a telephone call with Labor Party Knesset Member Binyamin Ben-Eliezer a day before quitting Egypt's president. Ben-Eliezer said on Israel TV Friday that he came away from the 20-minute conversation on Thursday with the feeling the 82-year-old leader realized "it was the end of the Mubarak era." He had very tough things to say about the United States," said Ben-Eliezer, who has held talks with Mubarak on numerous occasions while serving in various Israeli coalition governments. "He gave me a lesson in democracy and said: 'We see the democracy the US spearheaded in Iran and with Hamas, in Gaza, and that's the fate of the Middle East,'" Ben-Eliezer said. "'They may be talking about democracy but they don't know what they're talking about and the result will be extremism and radical Islam,'" he quoted Mubarak as saying. Ben-Eliezer said Mubarak expanded in the telephone call on "what he expects will happen in the Middle East after his fall." "He contended the snowball of civil unrest won't stop in Egypt and it wouldn't skip any Arab country in the Middle East and in the Gulf. "He said 'I won't be surprised if in the future you see more extremism and radical Islam and more disturbances, dramatic changes and upheavals," Ben-Eliezer added.



The Muslim Brotherhood


Feb. 11….(FOJ) The Society of the Muslim Brothers is an Islamist transnational movement and the largest political opposition organization in many Arab states. The group is the world's oldest and largest Islamic political group, and the "world's most influential Islamist movement." The Brotherhood has as its slogan "Islam is the solution." It was founded in 1928 in Egypt by the Islamic scholar and schoolteacher Hassan al-Banna. The Brotherhood's stated goal is to instill the Qur'an and Sunnah as the basis for world domination.

   The organization's motto is as follows: “Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. Qur'an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.” An important aspect of the Muslim Brotherhood ideology is the sanctioning of jihad such as the 2004 fatwa issued by Sheikh Yousef Al-Qaradhawi making it a religious obligation of Muslims to abduct and kill Americans and Jews.

    The Brotherhood's founder, al-Banna, was a devout admirer of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime. During the 1930s, the Brotherhood became more political in nature and an officially political group in 1939. Over the years, the organization developed an apparatus through which to provide military training to its followers and to engage in political terrorism against Egyptian Coptic Christians and government officials.

   Disparaging peace between Israel and Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood assassinated Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in 1981. So, why in the world would Egyptians today want the Muslim Brothers involved in their democracy movement?




Mubarak Resigns, Hands Power to Military


(FOJ) Vice President Omar Suleiman announced Friday, Feb. 11, that Hosni Mubarak had decided to step down as president of Egypt and hand his powers to the Higher Council of the Armed Forces· The announcement over state TV was greeted with ecstatic cheers by the protesters assembled in Cairo's Tahrir Square. A military coup d'etat took place over night and the high army command is in charge of administering the nation. Mubarak was appointed vice president in 1975, and assumed the Presidency on October 14, 1981, following the assassination of President Anwar El Sadat, by the Muslim Brothers.

Feb. 11….(AP) Egypt's Hosni Mubarak resigned as president and handed control to the military on Friday after 29 years in power, bowing to a historic 18-day wave of pro-democracy demonstrations by hundreds of thousands. "The people ousted the president," chanted a crowd of tens of thousands outside his presidential palace in Cairo. Several hundred thousand protesters massed in Cairo's central Tahrir Square exploded into joy, waving Egyptian flags, and car horns and celebratory shots in the air were heard around the city of 18 million in joy after Vice President Omar Suleiman made the announcement on national TV just after nightfall. Mubarak had sought to cling to power, handing some of his authorities to Suleiman while keeping his title. But an explosion of protests Friday rejecting the move appeared to have pushed the military into forcing him out completely. Hundreds of thousands marched throughout the day in cities across the country as soliders stood by, besieging his palace in Cairo and Alexandria and the state TV building. A governor of a southern province was forced to flee to safety in the face of protests there. It was the biggest day of protests yet in the upheaval that began Jan. 25, growing from youth activists working on the Internet into a mass movement that tapped into widespread discontent with Mubarak's authoritarian lock on power, corruption, economic woes and widespread disparities between rich and poor. "In these grave circumstances that the country is passing through, President Hosni Mubarak has decided to leave his position as president of the republic," a grim-looking Suleiman said. "He has mandated the Armed Forces Supreme Council to run the state. God is our protector and succor." Nobel Peace laureate Mohammed ElBaradei, whose young suporters were among the organizers of the protest movement, told The Associated Press, "This is the greatest day of my life." "The country has been liberated after decades of repression," he said adding that he expects a "beautiful" transition of power.

Ahmadinejad calls for Mideast without Israel and US

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says Egypt's popular uprising shows a new Middle East is emerging, one that will have no signs of Israel and US "interference." The Iranian president spoke as the country marked the 32nd anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution. His remarks came hours after Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak refused to step down, angering hundreds of thousands of Egyptians who have been demanding he relinquish his three-decade grip on power. Ahmadinejad says Egyptians have the right to live in freedom and choose their own government. Iran crushed opposition protests against Ahmadinejad's disputed 2009 re-election and on Thursday, Iranian opposition leader Mahdi Karroubi was placed under house arrest because of calls for a rally in support of Egyptian protesters. On Thursday, Iranian opposition leader Mahdi Karroubi announced via his website,, that he has been placed under house arrest, because he called for a rally in support of anti-government demonstrations in Egypt. Karroubi petitioned the government for permission to hold a rally, but State Prosecutor Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejehi rejected the request, warning of repercussions should a demonstration take place.



Ahmadinejad: No Israel in new Mideast

(Hundreds of thousands of Iranians take to streets, marking Islamic Revolution's 32nd anniversary. President calls on West not to 'interfere' in Egypt upheaval, says protestors 'have the right to pick their own type of regime and rulers')

Feb. 11….(YNET) Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Friday called on Western powers not to "interfere" in the situation in Egypt and Tunisia and warned them to withdraw their support for Israel. According to the Iranian leader, the recent developments in the Middle East will diminish the influence of the United States and Israel in the region. In a speech marking the 32nd anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, Ahmadinejad turned to the West and said, "If you wish to modify your behavior and have other countries trust you, you must first of all avoid interfering in other countries, including Tunisia and Egypt, and let them make their own decisions." He called on young people in Arab countries to "be alert". According to the Iranian president, "It's their right to be free, it's their right to express their opinion and pick their own type of regime and rulers." He added that Western powers "seek to portray themselves as friends of the countries in North Africa, but have malicious intentions." Ahmadinejad went on to say that the American and Israeli impact would be reduced following the changes in the region. "In spite of all the satanic schemes, with the help of God and the people's resistance, the new Middle East will turn into a region without the United States and the Zionist regime, and the arrogant powers will have no place in this Middle East. Soon, the entire world will experience the sweet taste of a world without Zionists and thugs."



Lights Out for the Middle East’s Christians?

(The tumult in Cairo may spell much worse to come for the Copts)

Feb. 11….(Rich Lowry) Hosni Mubarak can count on at least one loyal supporter. Coptic Christian leader Pope Shenouda wants the anti-Mubarak protesters to stand down. He has two inarguable reasons to stick with the dictator: fear and experience. Even if the Muslim Brotherhood doesn’t take over, there is every reason to believe that a democratically elected Egyptian government will become more Islamist and more hostile to the country’s roughly 8 million Christians, who are overwhelmingly Copts. As a horrifying premonition, the Copts need look no farther than democratic Iraq, where the ethnic cleansing of Christians is still unspooling, slowly but inexorably. It’s an irony almost too bitter to bear that George W. Bush, an evangelical Christian fired by a vision of freedom with religious overtones, waged a war of liberation in Iraq that led to the uprooting of the country’s Christians. And did almost nothing to prevent it, or even remark upon it. Iraq’s Christians are the collateral damage of the country’s post-Saddam revolution. In a civil war, a small, defenseless minority hated by fanatics of both warring sides will not fare well. But even after the surge tamped down Sunni–Shiite violence, the war on Christians continued. One convent in Hamdaniyah in the north has been attacked 20 times since the start of the war, and as recently as last spring; according to USA Today, it was down to four nuns last year out of an original 55. Before the invasion, roughly 1.4 million Christians lived in Iraq. About half of them have fled, with many more sure to follow. For a community that dates back almost to the inception of Christianity, this is nothing short of a historic cataclysm.

     Iraq’s Christians have fallen prey to a one-two punch of terrorism and official indifference. Sunni extremists attack churches and assassinate individual Christians. In October, gunmen took 100 Christians hostage at Our Lady of Perpetual Help church in Baghdad and slaughtered more than 40 of them. The Shiite government can’t or won’t stop these depredations. By one estimate, 2010 was the deadliest year yet for Iraq’s Christians. In Egypt, Copts are already targeted. A suicide bombing on New Year’s Day in front of an Alexandria church killed more than 20. Nina Shea of the Hudson Institute notes that “the context is a government that has failed to make the rights of religious minorities a priority.” And this was under the pro-Western, relatively secular dictator. When the Muslim Brotherhood takes a place at the table, it will no doubt do all it can to imbue Egyptian government with Islamism’s enmity toward Christians. In terms of public opinion, the Brotherhood may be pushing at an open door. According to a Pew survey in Egypt last year, 84 percent of Egyptian Muslims, not yet familiar with Thomas Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists, support executing apostates. If the fashionably tolerant deigned to notice any of this, they might call it “Christophobia.” They prefer, though, to avert their gaze from the rancid hatreds roiling the Islamic world and delude themselves with pleasant absurdities. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says the Muslim Brotherhood is “largely secular.” This is a description that doesn’t even quite apply to American Episcopalians, let alone to the militant Islamic group explicitly devoted to jihad. In Egypt, we may see another collision between our democratic universalism and Islamic particularism. We rightly believe that all men are created equal and endowed with inalienable rights. Many of the people upon whom we project this vision of universal freedom, though, believe justice prevails only if their faith and its believers rule. Unfortunately, they’re the ones who get to vote. This is why Egypt could experience both a democratic opening and yet more Christian persecution. At 10 percent of the population, Copts are the region’s largest Christian community. If Egypt becomes intolerable for them, it’s lights out for Christianity in the Middle East.



Egypt’s Mubarak Refuses to Stand Down

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Feb. 11….(AP) Egypt's Hosni Mubarak stunned protesters in Cairo and proved numerous reports wrong Thursday when he announced in a televised speech that he would not step down from the presidency or leave the country. Instead, he handed his powers over to Vice President Omar Suleiman. Mubarak's surprising and confusing announcement raises numerous questions about what is happening in Egypt. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said, "I have expressed with all clarity that I do not intend to stand down" amid rumors that he would resign during his address to the nation. Mubarak said during an address to the nation that he has passed on some of his authority to his Vice President Omar Suleiman. "I will not refrain from punishing those who have committed crimes against our youth," Mubarak continued. Earlier, the vast Cairo square at the epicenter of more than two weeks of protests was electric and on edge Thursday night, waiting for Mubarak's expected televised address with euphoria. "We're almost there!" chanted the crowds, swelling to their greatest numbers yet. "The people want the fall of the regime," they shouted as reports emerged that the longtime leader could be poised to hand over his powers, possibly to the military, flashing V-for-victory signs. Thousands lined up patiently, including women, children and the elderly, waiting to enter the already packed square, while vendors sold flags and headbands in Egypt's colors around them. But the celebrating in Tahrir Square was tempered with trepidation that behind the scenes the military might already have firmly stepped in and seized control of the country, simply ushering in a new authoritarian regime. So many resolved to stay put, fearing it was too early to declare victory. "I am not optimistic. I am afraid that people will feel triumph and leave the square while in fact we have handed power from Mubarak to the army into a military abyss," said Ahmed Abdel-Hamid, one of the young protesters. Painter Sheikh el-Sayyed Abdel-Rahman was more blunt, calling it a coup.



'Saudi Arabia: We'll Support Egypt if US Cuts Aid'


(FOJ) The pax Americana and the American empire is over.  Economic issues at home have been indicating this reality for quite some time, but the past few months have shown that America is finished as the powerbroker of the Middle East. President Obama has fiddled away all of America’s allies, and bows to others.

Feb. 11….(Jerusalem Post) Abdullah speaks with Obama, tells him not to humiliate Mubarak, will prop up his regime if Washington withdraws its support, 'Times' reports. US President Barack Obama spoke with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia Wednesday to discuss events in Egypt. The Saudi King reportedly said that in the case that the United States withdraws its financial support for Cairo, that his kingdom would prop up Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's regime, The Times reported. According to the report, the Saudi king told Obama not to push Mubarak too hard, so as not to humiliate him amid the ongoing protests demanding his ouster. The White House has called on the Egyptian government to end the harassment of activists, to broaden the makeup of their negotiations with opposition leaders, to lift a repressive emergency law, and to take up a series of other moves the Obama government has requested for days. Obama reinforced that message in his telephone conversation with King Abdullah, in which the president emphasized the need for "immediate steps toward an orderly transition that is meaningful, lasting, legitimate and responsive," the White House said.



US-Saudi Rift Over Egypt: Abdullah Stands by Mubarak

Feb. 11….(DEBKAfile Exclusive Report) The conversation between President Barack Obama and Saudi King Abdullah early Thursday, Feb. 10, was the most acerbic the US president has ever had with an Arab ruler, Debkafile's Middle East sources report. They had a serious falling-out on the Egyptian crisis which so enraged the king that some US and Middle East sources reported he suffered a sudden heart attack. Rumors that he had died rocked the world financial and oil markets that morning and were denied by an adviser to the ruling family. Some Gulf sources say he has had heart attacks in the past. Those sources disclose that the call which Obama put into Abdullah, who is recuperating from back surgery at his palace in Morocco, brought their relations into deep crisis and placed in jeopardy the entire edifice of US Iran and Middle East policies. The king chastised the president for his treatment of Egypt and its president Hosni Muhbarak calling it a disaster that would generate instability in the region and imperil all the moderate Arab rulers and regimes which had backed the United States until now. Abdullah took Obama to task for ditching America's most faithful ally in the Arab world and vowed that if the US continues to try and get rid of Mubarak, the Saudi royal family would bend all its resources to undoing Washington's plans for Egypt and nullifying their consequences.

    According to British intelligence sources in London, the Saudi King pledged to make up the losses to Egypt if Washington cuts off military and economic aid to force Mubarak to resign. He would personally instruct the Saudi treasury to transfer to the embattled Egyptian ruler the exact amounts he needs for himself and his army to stand up to American pressure. Through all the ups and downs of Saudi-US relations since the 1950s no Saudi ruler has ever threatened direct action against American policy. A senior Saudi source told the London Times that "Mubarak and King Abdullah are not just allies, they are close friends, and the King is not about to see his friend cast aside and humiliated." Indeed, our sources add, the king at the age of 87 is fearful that in the event of a similar situation developing in Saudi Arabia like the uprising in Egypt, Washington would dump him just like Mubarak. Debkafile's intelligence sources add that replacement aid for Egypt was not the only card in Abdullah's deck. He informed Obama that without waiting for events in Egypt to play out or America's response, he had ordered the process set in train for raising the level of Riyadh's diplomatic and military ties with Tehran. Invitations had gone out from Riyadh for Iranian delegations to visit the main Saudi cities. Abdullah stressed he had more than one bone to pick with Obama. The king accused the US president of turning his back not only on Mubarak but on another beleaguered American ally, the former Lebanese Prime Minister Sa'ad Hariri, when he was toppled by Iran's surrogate Hizballah. Our sources in Washington report that all of President Obama's efforts to pacify the Saudi king and explain his Egyptian policy fell on deaf ears. Arab sources in London reported Tuesday, Feb. 8, that a special US presidential emissary was dispatched to Morocco with a message of explanation for the king. He was turned away.      

    The initiation of dialogue between Riyadh and Tehran is the most dramatic fallout in the region from the crisis in Egypt. Its is a boon for the ayatollahs who are treated the sight of pro-Western regimes either fading under the weight of domestic uprisings, or turning away from the US as Saudi Arabia is doing now. This development is also of pivotal importance for Israel. Saudi Arabia's close friendship with the Mubarak regime dovetailed neatly with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's alignment with Egypt and provided them with common policy denominators. The opening of the Saudi door to the Iranian push toward the Red Sea and Suez Canal tightens the Iranian siege ring around Israel. Signs of friction between Washington and Riyadh were noticeable this week even before President Obama's call to King Abdullah. Oddly enough, some American media reported the suspicion that Saudi oil reserves were a lot smaller than previously estimated.



Egypt: Hizbullah and Iran Want to 'Ignite the Region'

(Cairo says Nasrallah walking in footsteps of his mentor, Khamenei; seeking downfall of Egypt) )

Feb. 10….(Jerusalem Post) Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah is "walking in the footsteps of his mentor," Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Husam Zaki told the Saudi daily al-Watan on Wednesday. The spokesman accused the two Shi'ite leaders of wanting "to ignite the region." "Nasrallah does not have the right to accuse Egypt of being a follower of Israel and the US at a time when he works on shattering the unified front in Palestine and Lebanon to implement Iranian agendas," Zaki said. Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman said that terror organizations are the primary threat to the security of Egypt and that many operatives of al-Qaida and other Jihadist organizations had escaped from the country's prisons recently. Suleiman also told Egyptian paper Al-Ahram that those terrorist organizations had refused to stop the violence and unrest in Egypt, which he seemed to blame on them. Al-Qaida in Iraq called on Egyptians to free all those imprisoned by Mubarak's regime and called for holy war against Egyptian government, in a statement released to an Islamist website Tuesday, Reuters reported. Calling for a strictly Islamic government in Egypt, the group said that "If the people of Islam die trying to reach this goal, it is better for them than having a tyrant who rules them with laws other than God's Sharia law," according to the report.



Afghan Convert to Christianity to be Executed

Feb. 10….(Christian Post) An Afghan aid worker is facing execution within three days for converting to Christianity. Said Musa, 45, was told by a judge that he would be hanged within days unless he reconverts to Islam. But the father of six has refused to renounce his faith, telling the Sunday Times, “My body is theirs to do what they want with. Only God can decide if my spirit goes to hell.” He also claimed he was tortured and sexually abused by prison guards and inmates. Musa has been held in prison since May last year, after a local TV network broadcast secret images of Afghan Christians being baptized by westerners. The broadcast caused outrage as protesters demanded the expulsion of those who appeared in the footage. He sought asylum at the German Embassy but was arrested by authorities after calls by the deputy secretary of the Afghan parliament, Abdul Sattar Khawasi, for the public execution of the alleged converts, sparking a nationwide manhunt. The case sparked international outcry from human rights groups, which pointed out that Afghanistan is a signatory of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The document declares the right to freedom of religion, including the freedom to change religion or belief. However, under Islamic, or Sharia law, conversion to another religion is considered a crime. Defense lawyers have refused to represent Musa unless he reconverts, while others have dropped his case after being threatened. Musa, who lost his left leg in a landmine explosion in the 1990s, worked as a physiotherapist for the Red Cross for 15 years while assisting in the treatment of fellow amputees. The situation for Christians in Afghanistan, ranked third on Open Doors' World Watch List of countries where Christian persecution is most severe, has deteriorated over the past year with a major crackdown by the government on Muslim background believers.

FOJ Note: Where is the push by the American government under Obama for more democracy in Afghanistan? After all, American soldiers liberated Afghanistan in the name of freedom! It seems that freedom only is pushed in countries that tend to moderate Islamic extremism, like Egypt!



Egypt, Israel and Strategic Reconsiderations

Feb. 10….(Stratfor Intelligence) The events in Egypt have sent shock waves through Israel. The 1978 Camp David Accords between Egypt and Israel have been the bedrock of Israeli national security. In three of the four wars Israel fought before the accords, a catastrophic outcome for Israel was conceivable. In 1948, 1967 and 1973, credible scenarios existed in which the Israelis were defeated and the state of Israel ceased to exist. In 1973, it appeared for several days that one of those scenarios was unfolding. The survival of Israel was no longer at stake after 1978. In the 1982 invasion of Lebanon, the various Palestinian intifadas and the wars with Hezbollah in 2006 and Hamas in Gaza in 2008, Israeli interests were involved, but not survival. There is a huge difference between the two. Israel had achieved a geopolitical ideal after 1978 in which it had divided and effectively made peace with two of the four Arab states that bordered it, and neutralized one of those states. The treaty with Egypt removed the threat to the Negev and the southern coastal approaches to Tel Aviv.

    The agreement with Jordan in 1994, which formalized a long-standing relationship, secured the longest and most vulnerable border along the Jordan River. The situation in Lebanon was such that whatever threat emerged from there was limited. Only Syria remained openly hostile to Iisrael, but by itself, it could not threaten Israel. Damascus was far more focused on Lebanon anyway. As for the Palestinians, they posed a problem for Israel, but without the foreign military forces along the frontiers, the Palestinians could trouble but not destroy Israel. Israel's existence was not at stake, nor was it an issue for 33 years.

The Historic Egyptian Threat to Israel

    The center of gravity of Israel's strategic challenge before 1978 was always Egypt. The largest Arab country, with about 80 million people, Egypt could field the most substantial army. More to the point, Egypt could absorb casualties at a far higher rate than Israel. The danger that the Egyptian army posed was that it could close with the Israelis and engage in extended, high-intensity combat that would break the back of Israel Defense Forces by imposing a rate of attrition that Israel could not sustain. If Israel were to be simultaneously engaged with Syria, dividing its forces and its logistical capabilities, it could run out of troops long before Egypt, even if Egypt were absorbing far more casualties.

    The solution for the Israelis was to initiate combat at a time and place of their own choosing, preferably with surprise, as they did in 1956 and 1967. Failing that, as they did in 1973, the Israelis would be forced into a holding action they could not sustain and forced onto an offensive in which the risks of failure, and the possibility, would be substantial. It was to the great benefit of Israel that Egyptian forces were generally poorly commanded and trained and that Egyptian war-fighting doctrine, derived from Britain and the Soviet Union, was not suited to the battle problem Israel posed. In 1967, Israel won its most complete victory over Egypt, as well as Jordan and Syria. It appeared to the Israelis that the Arabs in general and Egyptians in particular were culturally incapable of mastering modern warfare. Thus it was an extraordinary shock when, just six years after their 1967 defeat, the Egyptians mounted a two-army assault across the Suez, coordinated with a simultaneous Syrian attack on the Golan Heights. Even more stunning than the assault was the operational security the Egyptians maintained and the degree of surprise they achieved. One of Israel's fundamental assumptions was that Israeli intelligence would provide ample warning of an attack. And one of the fundamental assumptions of Israeli intelligence was that Egypt could not mount an attack while Israel maintained air superiority. Both assumptions were wrong. But the most important error was the assumption that Egypt could not, by itself, coordinate a massive and complex military operation. In the end, the Israelis defeated the Egyptians, but at the cost of the confidence they achieved in 1967 and a recognition that comfortable assumptions were impermissible in warfare in general and regarding Egypt in particular.

    The Egyptians had also learned lessons. The most important was that the existence of the state of Israel did not represent a challenge to Egypt's national interest. Israel existed across a fairly wide and inhospitable buffer zone, the Sinai Peninsula. The logistical problems involved in deploying a massive force to the east had resulted in three major defeats, while the single partial victory took place on much shorter lines of supply. Holding or taking the Sinai was difficult and possible only with a massive infusion of weapons and supplies from the outside, from the Soviet Union. This meant that Egypt was a hostage to Soviet interests. Egypt had a greater interest in breaking its dependency on the Soviets than in defeating Israel. It could do the former more readily than the latter.

    The Egyptian recognition that its interests in Israel were minimal and the Israeli recognition that eliminating the potential threat from Egypt guaranteed its national security have been the foundation of the regional balance since 1978. All other considerations, Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas and the rest, were trivial in comparison. Geography, the Sinai, made this strategic distancing possible. So did American aid to Egypt. The substitution of American weapons for Soviet ones in the years after the treaty achieved two things. First, they ended Egypt's dependency on the Soviets. Second, they further guaranteed Israel's security by creating an Egyptian army dependent on a steady flow of spare parts and contractors from the United States. Cut the flow and the Egyptian army would be crippled. The governments of Anwar Sadat and then Hosni Mubarak were content with this arrangement. The generation that came to power with Gamal Nasser had fought four wars with Israel and had little stomach for any more. They had proved themselves in October 1973 on the Suez and had no appetite to fight again or to send their sons to war. It is not that they created an oasis of prosperity in Egypt. But they no longer had to go to war every few years, and they were able, as military officers, to live good lives. What is now regarded as corruption was then regarded as just rewards for bleeding in four wars against the Israelis.

Mubarak and the Egyptian Military

    But now is 33 years later, and the world has changed. The generation that fought is very old. Today's Egyptian military trains with the American’s, and its officer’s pass through the American command and staff and war colleges. This generation has close ties to the United States, but not nearly as close ties to the British-trained generation that fought the Israelis or to Egypt's former patrons, the Russians. Mubarak has locked the younger generation, in their fifties and sixties, out of senior command positions and away from the wealth his generation has accumulated. They want him out. For this younger generation, the idea of Gamal Mubarak being allowed to take over the presidency was the last straw. They wanted the elder Mubarak to leave not only because he had ambitions for his son but also because he didn't want to leave after more than a quarter century of pressure.

Reconsidering the Israeli Position

    I have laid out the reasons why the 1978 treaty is in Egypt's national interest. I have left out two pieces. The first is ideology. The ideological tenor of the Middle East prior to 1978 was secular and socialist. Today it is increasingly Islamist. Egypt is not immune to this trend, even if the Muslim Brotherhood should not be seen as the embodiment of that threat. As Israeli ideology becomes more militant and as its capabilities grow, Egypt may be forced to reconsider its strategic posture. Two things from this should strike the Israelis. The first is how badly they need peace with Egypt. It is easy to forget what things were like 40 years back, but it is important to remember that the prosperity of Israel today depends in part on the treaty with Egypt. Iran is a distant abstraction, with a notional bomb whose completion date keeps moving. Israel can fight many wars with Egypt and win. It need lose only one. The second lesson is that Israel should do everything possible to make certain that the transfer of power in Egypt is from Mubarak to the next generation of military officers and that these officers maintain their credibility in Egypt. Whether Israel likes it or not, there is an Islamist movement in Egypt. Whether the new generation controls that movement as the previous one did or whether they succumb to it is the existential question for Israel. If the treaty with Egypt is the foundation of Israel's national security, it is logical that the Israelis should do everything possible to preserve it.

    But recent events in Egypt point to a long-term problem with Israeli strategy. Given the strategic and ideological crosscurrents in Egypt, it is in Israel's national interest to minimize the intensity of the ideological and make certain that Israel is not perceived as a threat. In Gaza, for example, Israel and Egypt may have shared a common interest in containing Hamas, and the next generation of Egyptian officers may share it as well. But what didn't materialize in the streets this time could in the future: an Islamist rising. In that case, the Egyptian military might find it in its interest to preserve its power by accommodating the Islamists. At this point, Egypt becomes the problem and not part of the solution. Keeping Egypt from coming to this is the imperative of military dispassion. If the long-term center of gravity of Israel's national security is at least the neutrality of Egypt, then doing everything to maintain that is a military requirement. That military requirement must be carried out by political means. That requires the recognition of priorities.

   In other words, the worst-case scenario for Israel would be a return to the pre-1978 relationship with Egypt without a settlement with the Palestinians. That would open the door for a potential two-front war with an intifada in the middle. And as I have said before, it must always be remembered that no matter how many times Israel wins a war, it need only lose once to be annihilated. To some it means that Israel should remain as strong as possible. To me it means that Israel should avoid rolling the dice too often, regardless of how strong it thinks it is. The Mubarak affair opens a strategic reconsideration of the Israeli position.



Obama’s Muslim Brotherhood Ties

Feb. 10….(Robert Spencer) Barack Obama has declared that all opposition groups should have representation in the next Egyptian government, which essentially ensures that the Muslim Brotherhood will be part of that government.  The Brotherhood is the largest opposition group in Egypt, so it will probably end up in the driver’s seat in any new regime, and steer Egypt toward becoming an Islamic state inveterately hostile to the United States. So why isn’t Obama working to limit the Brotherhood’s scope and influence?  Maybe because he doesn’t really have a problem with the Brotherhood, despite its hostility to America.  Obama made sure to invite Brotherhood leaders to attend his notorious speech to the Islamic world in Cairo, Egypt, in June 4, 2009.  Starting in the earliest days of his administration, he showed an intense desire to establish friendly ties with Brotherhood-linked organizations, despite the Brotherhood’s stated goal of “eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within.”

    Obama first reached out to the Brotherhood when he chose the leader of a Muslim Brotherhood-linked group that had been named an unindicted co-conspirator in a Hamas terror funding case to give a prayer during his inauguration ceremonies.  Ingrid Mattson, then-president of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), offered this prayer at the National Cathedral on Obama’s Inauguration Day, despite the fact that the ISNA has admitted its ties to the Brotherhood.  The previous summer, federal prosecutors rejected a request from the ISNA to remove its unindicted co-conspirator status. Obama didn’t ask Mattson to explain the ISNA’s links to the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas.  On the contrary: He sent his senior adviser, Valerie Jarrett, to be the keynote speaker at the ISNA’s national convention in 2009.

    Even worse, in April 2009, Obama appointed Arif Alikhan, the deputy mayor of Los Angeles, as assistant secretary for policy development at the Department of Homeland Security.  Just two weeks before he received this appointment, Alikhan (who once called the jihad terror group Hezbollah a “liberation movement”) participated in a fund-raiser for the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC).  Like the ISNA, MPAC has links to the Muslim Brotherhood.  In a book titled In Fraternity: A Message to Muslims in America, co-author Hassan Hathout, a former MPAC president, is identified as “a close disciple of the late Hassan al-Banna of Egypt.  "The MPAC-linked magazine The Minaret spoke of Hathout’s closeness to al-Banna in a 1997 article:  “My father would tell me that Hassan Hathout was a companion of Hassan al-Banna. Hassan Hathout would speak of al-Banna with such love and adoration; he would speak of a relationship not guided by politics or law but by a basic sense of human decency.” The late al-Banna, of course, was the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood.

   The Muslim Brotherhood is a pro-Sharia group. Obama’s chief adviser on Islamic affairs, Dalia Mogahed, is a pro-Sharia Muslim. In their Gallup survey published under the hubristic title "Who Speaks for Islam? What A Billion Muslims Really Think," Mogahed and Saudi-funded dhimmi, or non-Muslim, pseudo-academic John Esposito cooked their data to increase the number of Muslim “moderates,” counting as “moderate” Muslims who wanted Sharia rule, hated America, supported jihad-martyrdom suicide bombing, and opposed equality of rights for women.  Mogahed also defended Sharia on a British TV show. With Brotherhood operatives in the American government and working closely with it, thanks to Barack Obama, it’s no surprise that he would have no problem with their being part of the Egyptian government also.



Islamists Massacre Two Christian Families in Egypt

Feb. 9….(Arutz) News of an Islamist massacre of two Christian Coptic families has emerged from Upper Egypt with the return of Internet connections to the country, after a one-week Internet blackout imposed by the troubled regime. The massacre, not the first in Egypt in recent weeks,  took place on Sunday afternoon (January 30) at the village of Sharona near Maghagha, in Minya province, and is being reported by AINA, the Assyrian International News Agency. According to the report, the Islamist murderers, aided by Muslim neighbors of the Copts, stormed the homes of the families, gaining access to the houses' roofs from the roofs of the families' Muslim neighbors. They killed eleven, including children, and seriously injured four more people.

   Anba Agathon, Bishop of Maghagha, told Coptic activist Dr. Mona Roman in a televised interview on Al-Karma TV that the killers are neighbors of the Copts, who "seized the opportunity of the mayhem prevailing in Egypt and the absence of police protection to slaughter the Copts." The bishop said that he had visited the injured Copts at Maghagha General Hospital and that they informed him that they recognized the main attackers, who come from the same village, Sharona. "The two families were staying in their homes with their doors locked when suddenly the Islamists descended on them," said Bishop Agathon, "killing eleven and leaving for dead four other family members. In addition, they looted everything that was in the two Coptic houses, including money, furniture and electrical equipment. They also looted livestock and grain." One group of masked assailants infiltrated the home of Copt Joseph Waheeb Massoud and killed him, his wife Samah, their 15-year old daughter Christine and 8-year-old son Fady Youssef. Another group simultaneously accessed the house of Copt Saleeb Ayad Mayez and shot him dead, along with his wife Zakia, their 4-year-old son Joseph and 3-year-old daughter Justina, Saleeb's 23-year-old sister Amgad, his mother Zakia and a woman named Saniora Fahim. "The massacre has nothing to do with the mayhem in Egypt," the bishop said, "but the murderers took advantage of the lack of police protection and thought they could commit their crime and no one would notice." "Why have those Islamists chosen those two Coptic families and not Muslim ones to slaughter and rob? I believe it is because they know that with Copts they can literally get away with murder," accused Coptic activist Dr. Hanna Hanna.



Coptic Christian: Muslims Can’t be Trusted

Feb. 9…(National Security) A Coptic Christian in the US is speaking out about the uprising in Egypt, sounding an ominous warning for those who might trust the Muslims in that area of the world. After several days of no communication, the US citizen says he has great concern not only for his family in the North African country, but the potential radical Islamists who seek control. Nabil moved his family from Cairo to the US 20 years ago. With Internet and phone services suspended in Egypt for days now, he just recently got through to his relatives, learning they have been locked down in their home fearful to leave even to buy food. As he explains, going to the embassy to leave the nation is also not an option for them. "The ones they go to, like the US embassy in Egypt, all are Muslim employees," he says, "and whenever they found Christians, they just refused it." Nabil tells OneNewsNow he is concerned how President Barack Obama is handling the crisis in Egypt. "Unfortunately I don't trust this guy because I believe his background is not really clear for me, is he Christian or Muslim? Because he goes to church, it's not a Christian church." Nabil says while the extremist Muslim Brotherhood may replace the current regime in Egypt, other nations in the region could fall to its power as well. The Coptic believer had this strong warning: "We have nothing to do except just to pray," he laments. "But you can't trust any Muslim. You can't trust them, because their Quran, their prophet Mohammad, he is not a prophet from God. No one should trust any Muslim." Once fiercely opposed to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak for his Christian persecution, many Copts say they are now praying the autocrat will stay in power as long as possible because they feel it would be better than the alternatives.



US faults Egypt VP for saying country isn't ready for democracy

(US Vice President Joe Biden calls Egyptian counterpart to reiterate US stance that any future Egyptian government be determined by the country's people)


(FOJ) How in the world can the US expect a nation that has never known democratic principles to suddenly be able to adapt itself into a viable free society? It simply is not practical. Societies must learn the precepts of liberty. Liberty is indeed a gift of God, but before liberty can be practiced to others, it must pervade the heart. (II Cor 3:17 Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.) (KJV)

Feb. 9….(Ha Aretz) The White House faulted Egyptian vice President Omar Suleiman for saying his country was not ready for a democracy, calling his comments "unhelpful." White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs made the comment at a daily news briefing on Tuesday. Despite the comment, United States Vice President Joe Biden reached out to his Egyptian counterpart on Tuesday with a phone call during which he reiterated US support for an orderly transition of power in Egypt. Biden also called for the immediate lifting of Egypt's longstanding emergency law and reiterated the US stance that any future Egyptian government "be determined by the Egyptian people," the White House said. Also on Tuesday, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates praised Egypt's military for its restraint during the country's two-week-long uprising, while the White House criticized its government for harassing protesters and journalists as demonstrations swelled anew.

   Egypt's military, long the backbone of the government in Cairo, has behaved in "an exemplary fashion" by standing largely on the sidelines during the uprising against President Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule, Gates told a news conference. "I would say that they have made a contribution to the evolution of democracy and what we're seeing in Egypt," he said as Egyptians staged one of their biggest protests yet demanding Mubarak step down immediately. The praise for the military appeared designed to buttress US ties with a power broker whose role is expected to be key to whatever political order emerges when Mubarak steps down. Under pressure from the protesters, Mubarak has said he will not seek re-election in September but has refused to resign.

    The US decision to support a transition effort launched by Mubarak's hand-picked vice president, Omar Suleiman, and to stop short of calling for his resignation has angered many demonstrators who want the longtime US ally to leave now. On Tuesday, the White House repeated its demand the Egyptian government respect civil liberties. "The government has got to stop arresting protesters and journalists, harassment, beatings, detentions of reporters, of activists, of those involved in civil society," Gibbs said. "We would call on all of those prisoners, as we have, to be released immediately." Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made clear over the weekend that the United States supports the transition effort undertaken by Suleiman, a long-time intelligence chief regarded with deep skepticism by many in Egypt's opposition.

Washington, with its emphasis on long-term stability in a country regarded as a linchpin of US Middle East policy, risks condoning "an inadequate and possibly fraudulent transition," said an influential group of US analysts. "The process that is unfolding now has many of the attributes of a smokescreen," the Working Group on Egypt said in letters this week to President Barack Obama and Clinton. Suleiman has been talking with opposition groups, including the banned Muslim Brotherhood, but the government has refused to give in to demands for the president's immediate ouster. US officials were concerned that forcing political change too quickly could create more instability in the world's largest Arab country, a key player in the Middle East peace process and important regional counterbalance to Iran. Egypt's military gets about 1.3 billion dollars in US aid every year, in part for keeping the peace with Israel since the two countries signed a groundbreaking accord in 1979.




Prophetic Consequences of American Leadership Supporting Muslim Brotherhood

Feb. 8….(Bill Wilson, KIN Senior Analyst) The Islamic-friendly White House supports replacing the Egyptian government with a coalition that includes the radical terrorist sponsoring Muslim Brotherhood. This move, supported by the Secretary of State and the president, will undoubtedly usher in a new era of terrorist-based instability in the Middle East and cause grave consequences for the United States and Israel for decades to come. The president’s first major speech supported and glorified Islam in Cairo. It is likely no prophetic coincidence that since then there has been great economic calamity, oil disaster, violence on the borders, and political unrest. The more America concerns herself with Egypt, the more consequences are likely. On National Public Radio, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, “Today we learned the Muslim Brotherhood decided to participate, which suggests they at least are now involved in the dialogue that we have encouraged.” Clinton is holding strong to the White House line that America is supporting democracy in Egypt. Despite warnings from Israel, veteran foreign policy experts and conservatives, this White House is buying the lie that the Muslim Brotherhood will participate in a democratic government. The man in the Oval Office said, “Now, it is not the role of any other country to determine Egypt’s leaders. Furthermore, the process must include a broad spectrum of Egyptian voices and opposition parties.” There are lessons from America’s actions regarding Iran, Iraq, and the Palestinian Authority. When President Jimmy Carter helped depose the Shah of Iran, a ruler friendly to the United States and one who kept the balance of peace in the Middle East, the result was the birth of a new era of terrorism. When President George W. Bush “liberated” Iraq and established “democracy” there--the people adopted a Sharia-law type of Constitution where religious freedom is essentially nonexistent. When “democratic” elections were held by the Palestinian Authority, the majority that were elected were members of the terrorist group Hamas. Islam is a tyrannical political system disguised as a religion. Islam can embrace “democracy” because it feeds into Islam’s totalitarian political goals. By encouraging the engagement of the Muslim Brotherhood in a so-called democratic system, the American leadership is paving the way for persecution of Christians and Jews and the escalation of a new Islamic order. Isaiah 59:8 says, The way of peace they know not; and there is no judgment in their goings: they have made them crooked paths: whosoever goeth therein shall not know peace.” Islam will only be emboldened by the unwise actions of the American leadership. Ezekiel 7:25 says, “Destruction comes; and they shall seek peace and there shall be none.”



Worst Case Scenario Confirmed: Muslim Brotherhood Joins Negotiations on Egypt Crisis

Feb. 8….(JWR) Opposition groups including the banned Muslim Brotherhood held landmark talks Sunday with Egypt's vice president, but the two sides remained at apparent loggerheads over opponents' principal demand: that President Hosni Mubarak step aside now. The government offered up a number of new concessions that would have constituted an undreamed-of bonanza for the opposition only a few weeks ago. But demonstrators in Cairo's Tahrir Square shrugged off the conciliatory steps, saying nothing less than Mubarak's departure would satisfy them. Protesters by the thousands continued their round-the-clock occupation of the sprawling plaza, which has taken on the air of a mini-city within a city. However, revolutionary fervor was increasingly at odds with the urgent wishes of many Egyptians to resume their normal routines. Banks, along with many shops and businesses, reopened Sunday, the first day of the Egyptian workweek. Traffic surged on previously empty roadways. In talks with some opposition groups, Vice President Omar Suleiman dangled the possibility of abolishing Egypt's state of emergency, a widely loathed 30-year-old decree that gives sweeping powers to the security establishment. Suleiman also offered what amounted to an amnesty for nonviolent protesters, greater press freedoms, formal redress for those seized by the secret police, and the creation of a broadly representative committee to work on constitutional reforms. But most in the square expressed skepticism that there would be follow-through on such pledges. Still, Suleiman's face-to-face talks that included the Brotherhood, which has been outlawed since the 1950s, were momentous for a government that for decades has attempted to isolate that organization through intimidation and the arrests of thousands of its members. Inviting the nation's largest opposition party, one that supports a constitution based on Islamic law, into negotiations reveals how much Egypt's political landscape has changed in the last two weeks. In Washington, political officials and diplomatic experts applauded the talks, saying they could represent a turning point in the crisis.

    It's "frankly quite extraordinary," said Sen. John F. Kerry, D-Mass., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press." He called progress on lifting the longtime emergency law a "major, major opening of the door to the democratic process." President Barack Obama, in a pre-Superbowl interview with Fox News, said that "Egypt is not going to go back to what it was." Obama described the Muslim Brotherhood as a well-organized group with anti-American rhetoric, but he downplayed the group's size and influence in Egypt and as a potential part of any new governing coalition. "I think the Muslim Brotherhood is one faction in Egypt," he told Fox's Bill O'Reilly. "They are "well-organized," he said, and "there are strains of the ideology that are anti-US." "It's important for us not to say our only two options are the Muslim Brotherhood or a suppressed Egyptian people," Obama said.

   As has been his practice in recent days, Obama avoided saying that Mubarak should resign immediately. It remains unclear if the Egyptian government and the Brotherhood and other opposition groups can reach compromises on reform and other changes while Mubarak is in power. Opposition groups have said they have not abandoned their demands that Mubarak step down. Sunday's talks, however, allowed the government to show it was attempting to meet protesters' demands while granting opposition parties a rare seat at the center of power.

   In an apparent bid to halt the protests, Mubarak recently promised that neither he nor his son Gamal would run in the presidential election scheduled for September. He shook up his Cabinet, and the leadership of the ruling party, including his son, resigned. But the longtime leader has dug in his heels on the protesters' demand that he leave office immediately, saying his abrupt departure would trigger chaos and pave the way for a takeover by Islamists. In a communique issued after Sunday's talks, endorsed by the opposition groups taking part, Suleiman promised a full investigation of the abrupt pullback of police in cities nine days ago, a move that triggered a wave of looting, and also a probe of last week's violent and seemingly carefully choreographed attack on the square by groups supporting the regime. The talks Sunday drew criticism from one key opposition leader, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mohamed ElBaradei, who said he would not negotiate with the government until Mubarak stepped down. "The whole idea was to move that regime to a new regime," ElBaradei said on CNN's "Fareed Zakaria GPS." "Mubarak continues to be a symbol of that old regime, and I will not give any legitimacy to that existing regime." He proposed the creation of a transitional presidential council, including Suleiman or an army representative along with civilians, that would prepare the country for free and fair elections. Any elections before "the right people establish parties and engage" would be "fake democracy," he said. Although ElBaradei did not join Sunday's talks, a representative of his National Front for Change attended. Soldiers, meanwhile, continued to tighten their cordon around Tahrir Square, though demonstrators were still permitted to come and go. On Sunday, the 13th day of the uprising, families were back out in force, unlike on some previous days when the crowd was dominated by men grimly making ready to fight off gangs of pro-Mubarak partisans.



Lebanon, Not Egypt, Determining the Fate of Democracy in the Middle East

Feb. 8….(John Bolton) Despite the media's recent focus on Egypt, events in Lebanon may well tell us more about the troubled prospects for Middle Eastern democracy. The fall of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri's government, replaced by a Hezbollah-dominated coalition, dramatically imperils Beirut's democratic Cedar Revolution. Financed and dominated by Iran, terrorist Hezbollah has consistently refused to disarm and become a legitimate political party. Instead, it enjoys the best of both worlds, contesting elections while retaining the military ability to enforce its will against uncongenial results. History will rightly blame the West for the tragedy of the takeover in Beirut, because of its unwillingness to stand against Hezbollah and its Iranian puppet masters. Washington must withhold recognition from any Lebanese government that relies on Hezbollah support. In mid-January at The Hague, the prosecutor for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon submitted long-awaited indictments regarding the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Although the indictments are not yet public, they are widely expected to finger top leaders in Hezbollah, Syria and potentially Iran, and they are doubtless behind Hezbollah's decision to assert itself by collapsing the government of Hariri's son.

    Rescuing Lebanon from radicals and terrorists will require strong action, noticeably absent in recent US policy. We can no longer pretend that the special tribunal's existence is an adequate response to the real problem in Lebanon: Tehran's long-standing drive for regional hegemony. It was always a mistake to confuse the effectiveness of an international criminal court with courts of real constitutional governments, and harmfully naive to think that the special tribunal could operate in a vacuum, as the events in Lebanon make painfully clear. Of course, Hezbollah's toppling of the Lebanese government is just the latest of its cancerous efforts in its home base. And it remains a continuing threat to innocent civilians in Israel, to other Arab governments in the Middle East and increasingly to other nations around the globe. For years before Hariri's February 2005 murder, the West explained away or ignored Hezbollah's clear role as an active agent of Syrian and Iranian influence. Western dupes and sympathizers noted Hezbollah's support for schools and hospitals among Lebanon's Shiite Muslims as if it were a different Hezbollah from the one terrorizing Israel and subverting and intimidating Lebanon's faltering efforts at representative government. Hezbollah's diaphanous justification for its military capability, expelling Israel from Lebanon, in effect ended in 2000 when Israel complied with UN Security Council resolutions by withdrawing its forces from southern Lebanon. Of course, protecting Lebanon is legitimately the responsibility only of the Lebanese armed forces, which in fact Syria and Hezbollah have also been working to bring under their control.

    Western support for Lebanese democracy has been for the most part limited to a series of Security Council resolutions, particularly Resolution 1559, calling for Syria to withdraw its forces from Lebanon, and Resolution 1595, creating an international investigation commission to assist Lebanon in prosecuting the Hariri assassination. But Hezbollah foiled these efforts in 2006 by provoking war with Israel. The Security Council ultimately imposed a cease-fire and called for "the disarming of all armed groups in Lebanon," for an embargo against rearming Hezbollah and for Lebanon's government to take control of its entire territory, in order to eliminate Hezbollah's state within a state. But, as so often before, the West did not follow through. Instead, Iran and Syria rearmed and restored Hezbollah to greater strength (unequivocally demonstrating that Hezbollah was their proxy).

    The West must insist on enforcing the Security Council resolutions in support of Lebanese sovereignty and peaceful, representative government, or stop engaging in meaningless gestures. This is our last opportunity before Hezbollah's armed capabilities swallow democracy in Lebanon, perhaps permanently, and dramatically increase the risk of renewed hostilities throughout the region. President Obama's reaction is crucial. Unlike Washington's repeated prior failures, we must refuse to recognize any Hezbollah-dominated government as legitimate, at least until Hezbollah fully disarms and becomes a real political party. This may well mean committing to more than an impotent UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon. Hezbollah's 1983 bombings of US and French forces in Beirut caused their withdrawal, a rare failure of will by then-President Reagan, leading to today's crisis. We stand aside again at our peril. The White House has been obsessed for two years with pressuring Israel to make concessions to Palestinians instead of focusing on the manifestations of Iran's menace. Perhaps the humiliation of Hezbollah's collapsing of Saad Hariri's government as Hariri was meeting in the Oval Office will help spur Obama into meaningful action. If not, the lights will be going out in Lebanon for a long time to come, with devastating consequences in the broader Middle East.


Iran Nukes, And Now Fears Over Egyptian WMD

Feb. 8….(Newsmax) With Egypt in turmoil and the Hosni Mubarak regime imperiled, concerns are rising over the Arab world’s most militarily advanced nation’s weapons of mass destruction programs, said to include work with nuclear, chemical and biological technologies. Egypt, nuclear, weapons, wmd, Israel, Islamists, Documents obtained by NBC News from the United States, Russia and Israel reportedly disclose that Egypt has conducted research on uranium and plutonium processing, helped Saddam Hussein’s Iraq develop its deadly chemical weapons arsenal, and aided North Korea’s missile programs. The research and development has been ongoing for more than three decades, according to the documents and interviews with American officials. The United States has not taken action to discourage the work due to America’s close relationship with the Egyptian military. But all that could change if Mubarak is ousted and that relationship deteriorates.

    If an Islamist regime replaces the Mubarak government, “then all bets are off” as far as Egypt’s pursuit of WMDs, according to James Russell, a former Pentagon official now with the Naval Post-Graduate School in Monterey, Calif. Egypt has already hinted that it could withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty if nothing is done about Israel and Iran’s nuclear weapons programs, according to NBC News. In that case, Egypt would be under no restraints in developing nuclear technology for weapons. Egypt’s plutonium research appears to have taken place at least 20 years ago. But its uranium experiments conducted at it two research reactors in the Nile Delta are more recent, according to an International Atomic Energy Agency report. One fear is that if a new Egyptian regime lost part or all of its American military aid, it could seek to make up for the loss by exporting weapons technology. According to a 2005 CIA report cited by NBC, after the outbreak of the Iran-Iraq War in 1981, Iraq paid Egypt for assistance in producing sarin munitions. The nerve gas was used to deadly affect by the Iraqis against Kurdish dissidents and Iranian troops. In the mid-1980s, Egypt secretly aided North Korea’s missile program by shipping at least two of its Soviet-supplied Scud missiles to North Korea for reverse engineering. “It is this backdrop, and the fact that Egypt still has considerable expertise in missiles and chemical weapons,” NBC concludes, “that has some analysts concerned about the path that a new Egyptian government might take.”



Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood: In Their Own Words

Feb. 7….(Jonathan D. Halevi)

    * The Muslim Brotherhood has taken a greater role in organizing the protest against the Egyptian regime as it unfolds its independent political agenda. Rashad al-Bayumi, the Brotherhood's second-in-command, announced in an interview with Japanese TV that the group would join a transitional government in order to cancel the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, as it "offends the Arabs' dignity and destroys the interests of Egypt and other Arab states." He further stressed that Egypt does not need American aid.

    * The Muslim Brotherhood does indeed participate in political activity and defend the democratic process. That is not, however, because it has accepted the principles of Western democracy, but rather because the democratic process can be exploited to establish an Islamic regime which will then render democracy unnecessary.

    * Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Muhammad Mahdi ‘Akef told the Egyptian daily Al-Karama in 2007 that only Islam was the expression of true democracy. "Islam and its values antedated the West by founding true democracy, exemplified by the Shura [the advisory council under the Caliphs]."

    * The Brotherhood's official website notes that jihad is Islam's most important tool in effecting a gradual takeover, beginning with the Muslim countries, moving on to reestablishing the Caliphate over three continents in preparation for a conquest of the West, and finally instituting a global Islamic state.

    * The Muslim Brotherhood's step-by-step plan dictates its supposed "moderation," which will gradually vanish as its achievements increase and its acceptance of the existing situation is replaced by a strict, orthodox Muslim rule whose foreign policy is based on jihad.

    The Obama Administration is discussing with Egyptian officials a proposal for President Hosni Mubarak to resign immediately, and turn over power to a transitional government headed by Vice President Omar Suleiman with the support of the Egyptian military. According to the American proposal, the transitional government will include members from a broad range of opposition groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood. The Muslim Brotherhood, a global movement with Hamas as its Palestinian branch, has taken a greater role in organizing the protest against the Egyptian regime as it unfolds its independent political agenda, defying both the American administration and Israel. Rashad al-Bayumi, the Muslim Brotherhood's second-in-command, announced that the group would join a transitional government in order to cancel the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, as it "offends the Arabs' dignity and destroys the interests of Egypt and other Arab states." He further explained that his animosity to the American administration stems from its support for Israel, stressing that Egypt does not need American aid.

Democracy Is Islam's Entryway to Power

    The Muslim Brotherhood does indeed participate in political activity and defend the democratic process. That is not, however, because it has accepted the principles of Western democracy, but rather because the democratic process can be exploited to establish an Islamic regime which will then render democracy unnecessary, as was made evident by its platform in the 2007 Egyptian parliamentary elections. The organization claimed to be participating in the elections because "the Muslim Brotherhood preaches the path of Allah [and therefore it is participating] to fulfill Allah's commands in peaceful ways, using existing constitutional institutions and a decision determined by the ballot box." That is, democracy is Islam's entryway to power. The Muslim Brotherhood platform also noted that "the rule in Egypt must be republican, parliamentary, constitutional and democratic in accordance with the Islamic Sharia," and that "the Sharia ensures liberty for all." The organization does not accept the principle of the separation of church and state, and the Islamic rule they aspire to is, for them, a realization of democracy. Interviewed on September 17, 2007, by the Egyptian daily newspaper Al-Karama, Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Muhammad Mahdi ‘Akef said that the organization's campaign slogan would be: "Sharia is the Solution" and that human rights and democracy would be included under Sharia rule. He devoted his May 12, 2007, weekly missive to an exposition of democracy as seen through Muslim Brotherhood eyes. He said that only Islam, which was given to men by Allah, was the expression of true democracy. He wrote that “Islam preceded doctrines and ideologies devised by men. The final, absolute message from heaven contains all the values which the secular world claims to have invented Islam and its values antedated the West by founding true democracy, exemplified by the Shura and Islam's respect for the equality of other religions. With regard to liberty, Islam reached a goal which secular preachers have not, for the liberty promised by Islam is genuine in every way, even in faith and religion. As to the claim that Islam does not recognize civil authority, the authority of Islam is democratic, it is genuine liberty, it provides equality in practice and is transparent, it neither oppresses nor robs any man of his rights. It is on that foundation and with those values that the Muslim Brotherhood calls for justice, equality, and liberty. The Muslim Brotherhood has held demonstrations against foreign intervention and against any democracy that serves the Americans. American democracy is corrupt because it wants to destroy the Islamic nation, its faith and tradition."

The Importance of Jihad

    According to the Muslim Brotherhood, jihad, that is, holy war against the infidels, is one of the fundamental elements spread by the Muslim Brotherhood. The organization's ideology, as it appears on its official website, regards "the Prophet Muhammad as its leader and ruler, and jihad as its path." Jihad has a global strategy beyond self-defense; it is the unceasing attack on every infidel rule, intended to widen the borders of the Islamic state until all mankind lives under the Islamic flag. Jihad, it is noted, is Islam's most important tool in effecting a gradual takeover, beginning with the Muslim countries, moving on to re-establishing the Caliphate over three continents in preparation for a conquest of the West, and finally instituting a global Islamic state. The organization's website states: We want a Muslim individual, a Muslim home, a Muslim people, a Muslim government and state that will lead the Islamic countries and bring into the fold the Muslim diaspora and the lands robbed from Islam and will then bear the standard of jihad and the call to Allah. Then the world will happily accept the precepts of Islam. The problems of conquering the world will only end when the flag of Islam waves and jihad has been proclaimed.

    The goal is to establish one Islamic state of united Islamic countries, one nation under one leadership whose mission will be to reinforce adherence to the law of Allah, and the strengthening of the Islamic presence in the world arena. The goal is the establishment of a world Islamic State. And if prayer is a pillar of the faith, then jihad is its summit and death in the path of Allah is the summit of aspiration. The Muslim Brotherhood does not hide its global aspirations and the violent path it intends to follow to achieve them. The Brotherhood is meticulous in its step-by-step plan, first to take over the soul of the individual and then the family, people, nation and union of Islamic nations, until the global Islamic State has been realized. The principle of stages dictates the Muslim Brotherhood's supposed "moderation." However, that "moderation" will gradually vanish as Muslim Brotherhood achievements increase and its acceptance of the existing situation is replaced by a strict, orthodox Muslim rule whose foreign policy is based on jihad. For the Muslim Brotherhood, jihad is at the center of the struggle against the United States, the West, Israel, and other infidel regimes. The supreme leader of the Muslim Brotherhood regards Islam as waging "a battle of values and identity" against the forces of "imperialism" and the "Anglo-Saxons" attacking the Arab-Muslim world "on the pretext of spreading democracy, defending minority rights, and opposing what they call terrorism." He advises Muslims to adopt "the culture of resistance against the invasion," explaining that Allah gave "the occupied, oppressed nations jihad and resistance as a means of achieving freedom." He added that "the culture of resistance to invasion and occupation have intellectual, military, and economic aspects. Experience in Palestine, Iraq, and Afghanistan have proved that resistance is not imaginary or fictitious or impossible, but rather it is possible when the Islamic nation presents a united front and uses its weapons and faith to face an imperialist, whether he comes with arms or inundates us with his ideas, values, or obsolete morality."



Peres: Israeli-Palestinian Peace Urgent in Light of Egypt Crisis

(President tells 11th annual Herzliya conference that the sluggish pace of the peace process means that the conflict is being 'exploited to the detriment of all sides'.)

Feb. 7….(Ha Aretz) President Shimon Peres urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday to move quickly toward a solution in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process in light of the crisis that has wracked Egypt over the last two weeks. "The dramatic events of the recent period make it necessary for us to take the Israeli-Palestinian conflict off the regional agenda," Peres said in his remarks to the 11th annual Israeli security conference, which opened Sunday in Herzliya. "We must do this as soon as possible because the conflict is being exploited to the detriment of all sides." The president added that Israel's "deterrence must be faith as well as an intention for peace with our neighbors." "The peace process is now crucial for our neighbors, and not just us," added Peres. "A true compromise, as painful as it may be, is preferable to the dangers that would be created in its absence." Peres stressed that the peace process had taken a sluggish pace due to mutual suspicions on the parts of both Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

    The Palestinians had in the past been suspicious that a right-wing Israeli government would refuse to recognize a two-state solution, said the president, adding that such a concern had proven unwarranted. In the same respect, he added, Israel had always suspected that the Palestinians would remain stubborn in their demand that 5 million refugees be given a right of return to Israeli territory, another concern, he said, that proved unwarranted. "Negotiations begin with wide and declared differences," said Peres. "Those must be overcome not with hammers or drums, but with creativity and patience, and no fanfare." "Negotiating is a process by which every side tries to get the most," he said. "As it continues, both sides understand that they must reach an end-position of action." The president also said that the sides have already reached an agreement based on the principle of two states for two peoples, on the existence of a demilitarized Palestinian state and on reaching a solution to end the conflict. "To our Palestinian neighbors, I say: Let's go together toward compromise," Peres said. "Create a democratic Palestinian state, with a scientific and technological infrastructure; let's return to the negotiating table and both sides can reach a reasonable agreement." "Based on my experience, I can tell my friends in the government and outside, that making peace is like splitting the Red Sea," Peres added. "There are heavy costs, but the alternative is much more dangerous."



Mideast Quartet: Israel-PA Peace Talks Must Advance Quickly due to Egypt Unrest

(Middle East negotiators say further delay in resumption of negotiations is detrimental to the prospects for regional peace and security)

image (FOJ) Pictured are members of the Middle East Quartet meeting in Munich, Germany, February 5, 2011. These leaders are insisting that Israel must still be coerced down the “roadmap of appeasement” despite the fact that a new Egypt may void its present peace agreement with Israel. One must ask, if Egypt renegs on the peace deal, will they return the Sinai to Israel? Of course not! What incentive does Israel have to enter into any peace deal

Feb. 7….(Ha Aretz) The Quarter of Mideast negotiators urged Saturday that Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations must advance quickly due to the recent turmoil in Egypt. The announcement, which was made at the end of a Quartet meeting in Munich, came after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has tried to delay the Quarter meet in recent days, claiming the timing wasn't right in light of the political crisis in Egypt. In a statement, the group said that in view of developments in the Middle East, the Quartet expresses its belief that further delay in the resumption of negotiations is detrimental to the prospects for regional peace and security. The Quartet emphasized that the goal of an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement is the establishment of a Palestinian state by September. The group also said it regretted Israel's decision to end a 10-month moratorium on construction in settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The meeting of Quarter members including United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, United States Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, United States Special Envoy for Middle East Peace George Mitchell, and High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the European Union Catherine Ashton. German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said the Quartet meeting, which also included Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, US special envoy for Middle East Peace George Mitchell and the Quartet's envoy Tony Blair, had delivered clear messages. "Those who want to support moderate forces in the Middle East, those who want to support constructive forces in the Middle East, are well advised to press for progress in the Middle East peace process," Westerwelle said.



Christians Slaughtered in Southern Egypt


(FOJ) Only days before the Egyptian uprising, a suicide bomber targeted a Coptic church in Alexandria, killing many innocent people. This was not a big surprise for Christians in Egypt, as a couple of months previously, a Christian was stabbed and murdered in the same city. It was suspected that the action came from outside, maybe al-Qaida. the Coptic church finds itself attacked with the clear purpose of total destruction 2,000 years after it started in Egypt.

Feb. 7….(Israel Today) Last week, just days after the demonstrations to reform or overthrow the Egyptian government got underway, Muslims in the south of the country took advantage of the general chaos to break into two homes belonging to local Coptic Christians and butcher every man, woman and child they could find. The Muslim assailants massacred eleven people and seriously wounded four others. Two whole families were destroyed. According to survivors of the attack who spoke to AINA, the Assyrian International News Agency, the attackers were aided by the Christians’ Muslim neighbors. Killed in the attack were a 15-year-old girl, an 8-year-old boy, a 4-year-old boy and a little girl only three years old. There is spreading fear that if Egypt falls into the hands of the radical Muslim Brotherhood, godfather of extremist groups across the region, the 10 million Coptic Christians in Egypt will face severe persecution, or worse. There is already evidence that the Christians of Egypt are in for a very bumpy ride going forward. On Sunday, the Muslim Brotherhood-led opposition agreed to sit down and talk with newly-appointed Vice President Omar Suleiman. The Christians were not invited to the table, despite being part of the original demonstrations demanding reform.



Egypt's Western-assisted Slide Toward Islamic Revolution

Feb. 7….(Israel Today) It seems 40+ years and a lifetime of diplomatic headaches have not been enough to teach the West its lesson when dealing with uprisings and democracy in the Middle East. In 1979, Iranians rose up against the repressive but stable rule of the shah, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi. America and Europe felt it was in the best interests of everyone involved to move the shah out of the way and throw open the doors to Western-style democracy. What they did was lay the groundwork for the Islamic Revolution and the rise to power of an even more repressive regime that now threatens the entire region. And they are repeating the same mistake in Egypt. When the demonstrations first began in Cairo on January 25, they were led by a large group of students with a list of specific demands. Having himself clearly learned the lesson of the shah’s overthrow, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak subsequently agreed to most of those demands, most importantly the demand that this be his last term in office and that he not establish a dictatorial dynasty with his son taking over next.

    A Christian source in Cairo says the uprising should have died down then and there. “As we followed the unfolding of events including the announced change in government and president Mubarak’s speech, we wondered why the international news media is focusing only on the thousands in Tahrir Square who are escalating their demands and refusing dialogue,” said the source. According to this man, something changed in the uprising after the first few days, after Mubarak had already agreed to most of the reforms demanded by the original protestors. “What is happening now has nothing to do with this original protest. What is happening right now is a conspiracy to topple Mubarak from outside the country,” he said. That change coincided with the more visible participation in the uprising by the Muslim Brotherhood, a radical Islamic group with ties to extremists across the region. But this Christian source suggested the situation is far more grave, and more methodical than just a handful of Brotherhood provocateurs entering the crowds. “Only a few people (hundreds?) are still there from the original protesters,” he noted. “They have been slowly replaced by other highly organized groups that all carry the same model of cell phones and have the same blankets.”

    There are even reports that these groups may not be Egyptians at all, with some eye witnesses saying they clearly do not speak Arabic with an Egyptian accent or in the local dialect. “This is typical of the Muslim Brotherhood, and everybody on the streets of Cairo knows this. We heard people on the streets saying that the plot to take over the country is now clear,” revealed the source. “The escalation of violence is because of this. Egyptians who love Egypt, the millions that took to the streets yesterday, want this to end.” The West is afraid of the “Arab street,” and is only being fed in that approach by the mainstream media. After all, violence and revolution make a much better story than compliance and smooth reform. In the meantime, average Egyptians like this Christian man and his family are ignored while the radical Islamists are given a global podium. “Where are those, like myself, that want change and reform, but accept the changes that Mubarak is proposing, and want a peaceful transition through elections in September?” he wondered fruitlessly. This man reported that over a million people had gathered last week in Cairo expressing acceptance of Mubarak’s proposed reforms and dialogue regarding the outstanding issues. And he said similar demonstrations had been held around the country. Over the weekend, the Mubarak government further complied with protestor demands when the old corrupt leaders of the president’s party all resigned. “The cry of the people of Egypt is being totally ignored by the international news media,” he said, questioning, “Is this on purpose?”

   If the Muslim Brotherhood does take over in Egypt (and it would do so by installing a sympathetic puppet like Mohammed ElBaradei), Israel would find itself direct neighbors with a new Islamic Republic that would dwarf the threat of Hizballah rule in Lebanon. Israeli officials are furious at the way the US and Europe are handling the situation. “I think the Americans still don’t realize the extent of the catastrophe into which they have pushed the Middle East,” Labor Party leader and former Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer told Army Radio. Ben-Eliezer slammed the Obama White House’s inability to learn from the past: “We learn from history. We remember what was said when Carter proposed that the Shah of Iran give up nicely and allow Khomeini to take his place. In Gaza, too, when the Americans came in, they supervised the democratic elections [via which Hamas came into power]. If there are elections in Egypt the way the Americans want, I will be surprised if the Muslim Brotherhood does not win. This will be a new Middle East, radical, Islamic and extremist.”

    Likud lawmaker Ayoub Kara told visiting Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee that “it needs to be understood that if the Egyptian government will fall, the Muslim Brotherhood will take its place.” Kara said that Obama should also be learning from the mistakes in Iraq, where an American-style democracy has led to a “saturation of terror.” A leading columnist for Israel’s largest daily newspaper, Yediot Ahronot, was even harsher, blasting Obama “selling Mubarak for a pot of lentils,” and “not understanding the Middle East.” “Our conclusion in Israel needs to be that the man sitting in the White House is liable to ‘sell’ us over night,” concluded the columnist. “The thought that the US might not stand by our side in the day of need causes chills. God help us.” Former Mossad chief Danny Yatom lamented that the Obama Administration had actually missed a golden opportunity. Yatom told Israel Radio that the situation was ripe for pressure on Mubarak to finally implement real reform, but the US should have worked with the Egyptian leader, not pushed him out of the way and opened the door to chaos. Now, said Yatom, Washington is going to get someone they can’t work with at all.






Egypt Vice President Survives Assassination Attempt


(FOJ) Any assassination attempts on the present Egyptian leadership serves to reveal that there are powerful forces, of a “non-democratic” nature involved in the uprising in Egypt.

Feb. 5….(Ha Aretz) Fox News reported on Saturday that recently appointed Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman has survived an attempted assassination. According to the report, armed assassins targeted the convoy in which Suleiman was travelling, killing two of his bodyguards. Fox News reported that the US confirmed the reports of the failed assassination attempt. Embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak appointed last week the former air force commander and aviation minister in efforts to stem popular rage against his autocratic regime. Suleiman is the first vice-president of Egypt to be appointed since Mubarak first took power almost thirty years ago. Mubarak himself occupied the position of vice-president under the former Egyptian president Anwar Sadat, and took the reigns of power after Sadat was assassinated in 1981. On Monday Suleiman said that  Mubarak told him to start a dialogue with all the political parties as hundreds of thousands continued to protest.



Egypt Gas Pipeline to Jordan/Israel Sabotaged

Feb. 5….(Ha Aretz) Unknown saboteurs attacked an Egyptian pipeline supplying gas to Jordan, forcing authorities to switch off gas supply from a twin pipeline to Israel, an official told AFP. The attackers used explosives against the pipeline in the town of Lihfen in northern Sinai, near the Gaza Strip, the official said. It was initially thought the pipeline to Israel was attacked. "The pipeline to Jordan has been attacked and the supply to Israel has been cut off," the official said. The army has taken precautionary measures to stop the fire from spreading, the official added, as rescue services were putting out the fire. It was not immediately clear who was responsible, or whether the attack was linked to the deadly protests against President Hosni Mubarak's rule, which entered their 12th day on Saturday. "We still don't have details of how it happened," he added. Israeli public radio quoted an Egyptian official as saying the attack was carried out at dawn, using a small amount of explosives that caused only minor damage. The fire lasted three hours and was under control, while gas supplies to Israel and Jordan were cut, the official said. Egypt supplies about 40 percent of Israel's natural gas, and in December, four Israeli firms signed 20-year contracts worth up to 10 billion dollars (7.4 billion euros) to import Egyptian gas. The attack came after Israel expressed concern that its natural gas supplies from Egypt could be threatened if a new regime takes power in Cairo.



The American betrayal

(Obama’s abandonment of Mubarak shows Israel cannot count on US at times of crisis)

Feb. 5….(YNET) The earthquake in Egypt caught us off guard. As was the case before, this time too our intelligence officials did not predict it, yet we are in good company: No Western country, including America, predicted this, just like they did not predict Hamas’ rise in Gaza. Yet there is one more thing we can learn from the events in Egypt, aside from the fragility of the region we inhabit, and it is something that’s not easy to digest: The Western world’s and mostly America’s treachery. We learned that the way they abandoned President Mubarak and gave him the cold shoulder can happen to us too. Or in other words, we cannot count on the Americans at a time of crisis. Everyone understands that Mubarak’s time is short, yet we would expect the American Administration to back him rather than disown him. For dozens of years, he was the only leader the West could rely on, the dam in the face of Islamization. And if America does this to the Egyptian president, what should any other ally think? There is no doubt that something fundamental about the American Administration has changed. The US conduct in the Middle East attests to inexperience and lack of familiarity with the region. It appears as though the world is being led by a rookie.

     A senior diplomatic source told me this past week that Israel is engaged in talks with US officials on the events in Egypt and Mubarak’s abandonment. The Americans are saying that they cannot ignore reformist elements that believe in the universal values espoused by the president. Or in other words: The current Administration’s problem is ideological and ignores Mideastern realities. Indeed, democratic reforms are worthy of being promoted, yet when this is done by abandoning an ally it sends a bad message to regional leaders. Meanwhile, it’s clear to all that if Muslim groups take power in Egypt at the conclusion of the uprising, our peace deal with Cairo is doomed. And should this agreement collapse, what are the chances that Jordan will remain the only state in the region that has peace with Israel? The revolution in Egypt has prompted a revolution in Israeli thinking as well.



Suspicious Attack on Gas Supply Line in Sinai

Feb. 5….(DEBKAfile Exclusive Analysis) Egypt's suspension of gas supplies to Israel after the North Sinai pipeline was blown up Saturday, Feb 5 has suddenly cut Israel off from 25-30 percent of its gas neds and 80 percent of Jordan's. A few hours after the blast, Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmad Shafiq announced the gas supplied to both countries under contract would henceforth be diverted to domestic requirements. With Egyptian gas cut off for the foreseeable future, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu went into hasty non-stop consultations with ministers and energy military and security officials. Alongside the emergency declared by Israel's electricity corporation, those consultations centered on three additional facets of the crisis: The expanding occupation of North Sinai by Palestinian Hamas extremists from Gaza and anti-Egyptian Bedouin tribesmen, culminating in the gas pipeline explosion; the failure of joint Israeli and Egyptian military efforts to contain it and, thirdly, concerns that Hamas may cross into Israel and sabotage Israeli power stations or fuel reservoirs to bring about the collapse of Israel's electrical power system. The pipeline supplying Egyptian gas to Israel and Jordan was blown up near the North Sinai town of El Arish early Saturday Feb. 5.  Egyptian state TV reported "terrorists" had carried out the attack which caused a huge explosion and fire. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu conferred urgently with Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau and energy firms over the abrupt cutoff of 25 percent of Israel's gas needs and ordered security beefed up at energy installations. The Egyptian and Israeli accounts are contradictory. An Israeli official spokesman said the explosion was nowhere near the Israeli section of the pipeline and closer to the Jordanian branch. The Egyptian spokesman spoke only of supplies to Israel, which he said had been suspended as a precaution because there had been several smaller explosions along the pipe. The Israeli Infrastructure Ministry spokesman reported that Egyptian gas, which covers 25 percent of Israel's needs, had been cut off at 0900 Saturday morning. He did not foresee regular power supplies being disrupted. Debkafile's counter-terror sources report that the attack on the El Arish gas facility was planned on military lines by a special Hamas team which infiltrated Sinai from Gaza last week. It was a major Hamas operation against on Israel, and blatant Palestinian interference in Egypt's domestic unrest. It was also a fiasco for the joint IDF-and Egyptian military effort to police Sinai during the turbulence in Egypt and secure this strategic peninsula against destabilization by terrorists.

    Muslim Brotherhood spokesmen in Cairo were quick to attach responsibility for the pipeline attack on disaffected Bedouin, a clumsy attempt, say Debkafile's sources, to clear their offshoot, Hamas, of blame for a well-planned act of which they must have had prior knowledge. Jordan is badly hit by the loss of Egyptian gas which covers 80 percent of its energy consumption. The Hashemite kingdom will have to resort to the far more expensive heavy oil and diesel to keep its power supply running and raise fuel prices after the king yielded to Islamist-back protesters' demands to reduce prices. The close rapport between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Palestinian and Lebanese terrorist organizations came to light earlier in the Hizballah-led operation to release Lebanese Hizballah, Palestinian Hamas and Egyptian Brotherhood convicts from Wadi Natrun jail north of Cairo Sunday, Jan. 30, first revealed by debkafile. While the Hamas and Hizballah escapees headed for Sinai and Gaza, the MB activists made straight for the hubs of disturbance in Egypt. The embattled Mubarak administration in Cairo may well find it politic to indefinitely put off repairing the pipe and restoring supplies to Israel for two reasons:

1. The incident will support Mubarak's argument that his immediate departure as demanded by Obama would throw Egypt into chaos, and not only Egypt, but resonate devastatingly across the entire region. Not just Israel, but its second peace partner, Jordan, is badly hit too by the loss of Egyptian gas which covers 80 percent of its energy consumption. Amman will have to convert to the far more expensive heavy oil and diesel to keep its power supply running. Fuel prices will have to be raised shortly after the king dropped them to quell the Islamist-back protests shaking the kingdom.

2. Some of the opposition factions backed by the US for a role in future government, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, are fiercely opposed to Egypt's peace relations with Israel which he has promoted for 32 years. The sale of Egyptian gas to Israel has come under constant attack in the street, which has accused the government of undercutting world prices and defrauding the Egyptian treasury.



Assassins Fail to Kill Egyptian Vice President Suleiman

Feb. 5….(DEBKAfile Special Report) Early Saturday, too, US intelligence sources disclosed that exactly a week ago, on Jan. 29, an attempt was made on the life of Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman in central Cairo as his convoy left the presidential palace. He had just been sworn in by President Hosni Mubarak as Vice President. Suleiman escaped unharmed but two of his bodyguards were killed. The sources said the attack bore the marks of professional, well-trained hitmen. The attack was denied in Cairo but US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton confirmed it in Munich when she said the assassination attempt was a sign of instability in Egypt. The attempt on the vice president's life underscores three features of the storm overtaking Egypt:

1. The pictures broadcast to world screens are almost exclusively restricted to Cairo's central Tahrir Square showing the opposition is gaining the upper hand in its challenge to the regime, while events elsewhere in the city and country suggest that Hosni Mubarak and his supporters are holding their ground against the movement and well able to fight back.

2.  Whenever US President Barack Obama turns the heat up for Mubarak's immediate resignation, "now means now," his words are greeted by an unwelcome rejoinder in the Egyptian arena. On Saturday night, Jan. 29, for instance, when Washington appeared confident that Mubarak was about to cave in, the attempt was staged on Suleiman's life. Wednesday, Feb. 2, after Mubarak had held out for nine days of 24/7 protests against his presidency, Washington began leaning hard on the army chiefs to remove him. Gen. Suleiman, Defense Minister Mohamed Hussein Tantawi and Chief of Staff Gen. Sami Enan were warned that the $1.3 billion of US military assistance to Egypt was in jeopardy. That day, 50,000 Mubarak loyalists stormed apparently out of nowhere into Tahrir Square for a massive attack on the protesters that was powerful and brutal enough to send them fleeing. Saturday, the day after Obama called on Mubarak "to make the right decision," an explosion in Sinai cut off Egyptian oil supplies to Israel and Jordan.   

3.  Mubarak does not appear to be frightened off by Obama's threat of an aid cutoff. According to international financial experts, he and his clique may well command many billions of dollars stashed away and invested outside the country. Some sources estimate Mubarak's private fortune at $20 billion which, if judiciously spent, could temporarily make up the shortfall, keep the wheels of government turning and enable the regime to hold out for some time.



Hamas Stirring Up Violence in Egypt

Feb. 5….(Arutz) Hamas is attempting to increase the level of violence in Egyptian demonstrations, according to a report in the Egyptian daily Al-Yawm Al-Sabah that was translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). According to the report, Hamas terrorists were recently caught on their way to demonstrations. Nine of the terrorists were nabbed in Suez City, and another two were caught in El-Arish. Security forces believe the 11 were not alone, the paper said. More terrorists are believed to have infiltrated Sinai recently. There has also been movement in the other direction, as Hamas prisoners escape jail in Egypt while police are busy with the protests. Hamas shares a platform with the Muslim Brotherhood, an Egyptian opposition party that supports the demonstrations against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. The Gaza-based terrorist group is in fact an offshoot of the Brotherhood, as is the Jordanian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Israel-based Islamic Movement.



Israel Prepares for Islamic Terror State Rising From Egypt's Ashes

Feb. 5….(Ken Timmerman) Israel is bracing for the establishment of an Iranian proxy-state in Egypt should the Muslim Brotherhood take over control of the government, as appears increasingly likely. With the White House now giving full-throated support to the Muslim Brotherhood, and Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman scheduled to meet with the Muslim Brotherhood leadership in Cairo, Israel is preparing for the worst. After years of ducking from Iranian-supplied Kassam rockets from Gaza, Israelis now fear their cities and towns could get hit with the full brunt of the Iranian arsenal as Iran replaces the United States as Egypt’s main arms supplier. Such a scenario would be a catastrophic conclusion of the 1978 Camp David peace accord between Egypt and Israel that has cost US taxpayers $63.7 billion in aid to Egypt alone, according to the Congressional Research Service. Israelis fear that Egypt could become “part of the Iranian pact in the Middle East along with Hamas, Hezbollah, and all the other thugs,” said Mordechai Kedar, a former Israeli military intelligence analyst now with the Begin Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar Ilan University in Israel.

    A Muslim Brotherhood takeover could lead to the imposition of Shariah, with far-reaching implications for the rights of women, Christians and minorities, and dramatic changes in Egypt’s relationships to its neighbors. “They will cut relations with Israel immediately. Maybe they will capture some Israelis as happened in Tehran with the American embassy those days in 1979,” Kedar told Newsmax by telephone from Israel. “That is the bad scenario.” The most hopeful scenario involves a Muslim Brotherhood preoccupied with guaranteeing the livelihood of 85 million Egyptians and not wanting to engage in extremist acts or policies that would endanger Egypt’s alliances or its economy, Kedar said. “But whatever happens, the Muslim Brotherhood will have much to say about everything in Egypt no matter who is the leader, whether it’s Gen. Omar Suleiman, Mohamed ElBaradei, or someone else.”

    Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., threatened on Thursday to introduce legislation that would immediately cut off the $1.5 billion in aid the US provides Egypt annually, as a means of pressuring Mubarak to step down. Such a move would make things worse, alienating the Egyptian military at the very moment we need them most, while empowering and emboldening the Muslim Brotherhood, says Robert Satloff of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “The most likely agent of peaceful change at the moment, the institution most likely to trigger transition, is the military. The United States should therefore remain in contact with this institution in order to influence it, to the extent possible. The idea that Washington gains influence by cutting off assistance simply does not translate into Arabic,” Satloff argued. Rep. Allen West, a tea party freshman from Florida who has been named to the Armed Services Committee, tells Newsmax he has many concerns about President Barack Obama’s handling of the crisis in Egypt. “In an uprising such as this, violent, dangerous factions emerge because they are strongest and gain power by intimidation,” West said. “President Obama needs to be more clear that the United States will only support a democratic and peaceful government in Egypt and be firm that groups like the Muslim Brotherhood have no place in the transition to a new Egyptian government. “In addition, “President Obama needs to keep the security of Israel as paramount. However, I have heard nothing from the president on his views and plans to alleviate what could be a very volatile and dangerous situation for Israel and the entire Middle East.”

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned the Knesset on Wednesday that the future of Egypt and of Egypt’s ties with Israel hung in the balance. “We have two separate worlds here, two opposites, two worldviews: that of the free, democratic world and that of the radical world. Which one of them will prevail in Egypt? The answer to this question is crucial to the future of Egypt, of the region and to our own future here in Israel,” Netanyahu told the Israeli parliament. He made it clear that Israel would prefer to see the success of  “the forces that promote freedom, progress and peace.” But in the meantime, Israel has to gird its loins and prepare for the worst. “We oppose the forces that seek to enforce a dark despotism, terrorism and war,” he said. Netanyahu’s real fear is that Iran will use its influence on the Muslim Brotherhood to steer Egypt away from its peace treaty with Israel and into the camp of Muslim radicals. “The Iranian regime is not interested in seeing an Egypt that protects the rights of individuals, women, and minorities. They are not interested in an enlightened Egypt that embraces the 21st century. They want an Egypt that returns to the Middle Ages. They want Egypt to become another Gaza, run by radical forces that oppose everything that the democratic world stands for,” Netanyahu said.

   Israel’s border with Egypt has been at peace for so long that many members of the Israeli parliament were born in an era of peace, with no recollection of the battles that his generation waged, the Israeli prime minister said. Israel traded the strategic depth of the Sinai desert, which it captured from Egypt in the final days of the 1973 war, for the Camp David peace accord signed with President Anwar Sadat in 1978. Although the agreement has led only to a cold peace, Israel “has not had to defend these borders” for the past 30 years, Netanyahu said. The prime minister laid down a marker for whoever takes over after Mubarak leaves. “We expect any government of Egypt to honor the peace. Moreover, we expect the international community to expect any government of Egypt to honor the peace. This must be clear.”

    Former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations Dore Gold warned that the Muslim Brotherhood is ideologically wedded to an expansionist version of Islam that bodes ill for the future of Israel’s relationship with Egypt and for Egypt’s relationship with the West. “We have a mistaken tendency in the West to underestimate the hostility of the Muslim Brotherhood not just to Israel but to neighboring Middle Eastern regimes and beyond,” Gold told Newsmax from Israel. “Remember that the goal of the Muslim Brotherhood is the establishment of the caliphate,” the Muslim empire that was abolished by Ataturk in 1924. Muslim Brotherhood leaders have systematically called for “reconquest” of “Islamic territories” from Andalusia (southern Spain) to Sicily and the Balkans. Their statements show “an expansionist agenda aimed beyond the Middle East. Gold warned that the West makes two common assumptions about the Muslim Brotherhood, both of which are mistaken. “First, we assume that the Muslim Brotherhood has dropped its jihadist ideology. This is just not true. And second, we believe that they are fundamentally focused on Egypt. They also assume that a Muslim Brotherhood takeover might be a problem for Israel and the peace treaty, but it won’t be a problem beyond that. That’s also wrong.”

    As proof, Gold turned to Muhammad Badie, the supreme leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, who gave a sermon in September 2010 stating that "the improvement and change that the Muslim nation seeks can only be attained through jihad and sacrifice and by raising a jihadi generation that pursues death, just as the enemies pursue life." He also pointed to statements by Arab leaders such as former Kuwaiti Education Minister Ahmed al-Rubei, that the founders of most modern terrorist groups in the Middle East have emerged “from the mantle” of the Muslim Brotherhood. Among the most famous:

    * Abdullah Azzam (of the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood) and Sayyid Qutb (of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood), whose star pupil was Osama bin Laden.

    * Ayman al-Zawahiri (bin Laden's deputy), who grew up in the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and was jailed for his involvement in the assassination of President Anwar Sadat in 1981.

·         Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (the al-Qaida mastermind of the 9/11 attacks), who came out of the Kuwaiti Muslim Brotherhood.



Americans Don't Realize What (Obama )They've Done


(FOJ) Obama is a TV icon in Egypt these days! Possibly in the vain hope that the Arab mobs will begin to like America, US President Obama has, in a historic move, “humiliated and betrayed his best ally in the Arab world. Obama is actually aiding Iran in this case, as they both want Mubarak to fall. “By dropping Mubarak, Obama has also ended the PA-Israel process, because PA chief Mahmoud Abbas is very weak, and his only support in the Arab world came from Mubarak.

Feb. 5….(Arutz) Former Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer says Americans still don’t realize the catastrophe into which they have pushed the Middle East by demanding Mubarak resign. Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, a former army general, Labor Party Chairman and Cabinet minister, praises Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, whom he has known for many years, and has strong criticism for US President Obama's abandonment of him.  “When I watched his speech in which he said he would step down, " Ben-Eliezer said on Wednesday about Mubarak, "it pained me to see his collapse. He stood by our side for 30 years, he was a strong leader, he kept proudly to Sadat’s commitments and followed in his path. He always emphasized the strategic importance of peace with Israel, and that this peace was the basis for stability in the Middle East.”

Just Like in Iran and Gaza

Ben-Eliezer does not agree that he is being too pessimistic: “We learn from history. We remember what was said when Carter proposed that the Shah of Iran give up nicely and allow Khomeini to take his place. In Gaza, too, when the Americans came in, they supervised the democratic elections via which Hamas came into power. If there are elections in Egypt the way the Americans want, I will be surprised if the Muslim Brotherhood does not win. This will be a new Middle East, radical, Islamic and extremist.” “I think the Americans still don’t realize the extent of the catastrophe into which they have pushed the Middle East," Ben-Eliezer said. "It’s still too early to judge, but this is not their first mistake. Unfortunately, they are also the godfathers of the construction freeze in the territories [Judea and Samaria], something that no American administration ever did before.” As if unaware that the leaders of the Palestinian Authority might suffer the same fate as Mubarak, Ben-Eliezer concluded by saying, “There therefore had better be a quick diplomatic process with the Palestinian Authority before the American boss in Washington forces a solution upon us.” Other analysts concluded quite the opposite, proposing that Israel not rush into any agreement with leaders whose futures appear endangered.



Mubarak: If I Resign, Egypt Will Descend Into Chaos


Feb. 4….(ABC) In ABC interview, Egyptian president says he's "fed up" and wants to go but can't because he cares about his country; claims Obama doesn't "understand the Egyptian culture and what would happen if I step down now." Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Thursday said that he wants to resign but feels he has a responsibility from letting his country "slide into chaos." Mubarak's comments came in an interview with ABC's Christiane Amanpour. "I am fed up. After 62 years in public service I have had enough. I want to go," Mubarak told Amanpour. On calls for him to resign, Mubarak said "I don't care what people say about me. Right now I care about my country." The Egyptian president responded to calls from his US counterpart Barack Obama that he step down saying, "you don't understand the Egyptian culture and what would happen if I step down now." He warned that the Muslim Brotherhood would take power in Egypt if he were to resign now. On violence that erupted between pro and anti-Mubarak protesters on Wednesday, the Egyptian president said, "“I was very unhappy about yesterday. I do not want to see Egyptians fighting each other.” Earlier on Thursday, Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman said that the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s most organized opposition movement, has been invited to meet with the new government as part of a national dialogue with all parties. Suleiman said the "conspiracy" behind the assault of the protesters will be investigated. He expressed his surprise that the protests have not stopped. He said he will release non-violent youths detained during protests, Reuters reported. Suleiman added that violent protesters in Tahrir Square will be punished. Also Thursday, Egyptian state television quoted Suleiman as saying that Mubarak's son will not seek to succeed his father in elections later this year, in the the latest concession to anti-government protesters. It was widely believed that Mubarak was grooming his son Gamal, 46, to succeed him despite significant public opposition. In related news, the Egyptian attorney-general on Thursday issued a travel ban and froze the bank accounts of several former ministers that are being investigated, Egyptian state television reported. One of the ministers is reportedly former interior minister Habib el-Adly who is being investigated for pulling police out of Tahrir Square last week. With police absent from the area, there was looting in Cairo.



Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh will Resign

Feb. 4….(In The Days) He won’t install his son to replace him, he said. He also has asked his political opponents “to re-engage in dialogue in hopes of reaching a sustainable and reconcilable political agreement,” the Yemeni government said. Saleh made the announcement as unprecedented protests sweep across North Africa and the Middle East. The demonstrations have forced Tunisia’s president from office, and they prompted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to say Tuesday he would not run for re-election this year. King Abdullah of Jordan, meanwhile, has sacked his government and appointed a new prime minister in the face of protests there. In Yemen, Saleh had called an emergency parliamentary meeting ahead of a “day of rage” protests scheduled for Thursday. The protests, which have also caught on to various extents in Algeria and Sudan, have proved to be “a real watershed event for the Arab world,” said Blake Hounshell, managing editor of Foreign Policy magazine. “It’s really unprecedented.” Saleh has been in office for 32 years and was last re-elected in 2006. High-ranking officials around him have started obtaining ordinary passports for themselves and their families, in addition to the official diplomatic ones they already carry, as the unrest spreads, Arab diplomatic sources in the capital of Sanaa told CNN. “There is a lot of trepidation here and no one wants to be in the situation that Ben Ali found himself in after he was forced flee,” one source said, declining to be named because of the sensitivity of the situation. The Tunisian government recently canceled the official passports of deposed leader Zine El Abedine Ben Ali and his family. In recent weeks, thousands of people have taken to the streets in Yemen demanding the kind of change that forced Ben Ali from office last month. Some of the protesters have called for Saleh to step down as president. Earlier this year, Yemen’s parliament began debating proposed amendments to the country’s constitution. The measures, which would cancel presidential term limits, have sparked concerns among the opposition that Saleh might try to appoint himself president for life. On Wednesday, Saleh said he has requested his party to freeze debate on the proposed amendments until a consensus is reached. The opposition coalition, Joint Meeting Parties (JMP), said the president’s speech was not enough and called on its followers to continue with Thursday’s planned march, said Hakim Almasmari, editor in chief of the Yemen Post. A day earlier, the president also ordered the release of journalist Abdul Elah Haidar Shaye who was sentenced to five years in jail last month after he was convicted of collaborating with al Qaeda in Yemen, according to the country’s official news agency, SABA.



Muslim Brotherhood Will Abolish Israeli Peace Deal

Feb. 4….(In The Days) Egypt’s banned Muslim Brotherhood movement has unveiled its plans to scrap a peace treaty with Israel if it comes to power, a deputy leader said in an interview with NHK TV. Rashad al-Bayoumi said the peace treaty with Israel will be abolished after a provisional government is formed by the movement and other Egypt’s opposition parties. “After President Mubarak steps down and a provisional government is formed, there is a need to dissolve the peace treaty with Israel,” al-Bayoumi said. Egypt was the first Arab country to officially recognize Israel and sign a peace agreement with the Israeli government in 1979. It is also a major mediator of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Muslim Brotherhood has recently come to light amid mass anti-government protests in Egypt. Some media voiced concerns that the banned Islamic movement could eventually take power in the riot-hit Arab country. The deeply conservative Islamic movement, which wants to move Egypt from secularism and return to the rules of the Quran, failed to win a single seat in the 2010 Egyptian parliamentary election. The Muslim Brotherhood joined the anti-government protests in Egypt last week. The unrest, seen by many analysts as a major threat to repressive governments in the region, has already claimed the lives of at least 300 people and injured several thousand.



US Response to Egypt Draws Heavy Criticism in Israel

Feb. 4….(My Way) President Barack Obama's response to the crisis in Egypt is drawing fierce criticism in Israel, where many view the US leader as a political naif whose pressure on a stalwart ally to hand over power is liable to backfire. Critics, including senior Israeli officials who have shied from saying so publicly, say Obama is repeating the same mistakes of predecessors whose calls for human rights and democracy in the Middle East have often backfired by bringing anti-West regimes to power. Israeli officials, while refraining from open criticism of Obama, have made no secret of their view that shunning Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and pushing for swift elections in Egypt could bring unintended results. "I don't think the Americans understand yet the disaster they have pushed the Middle East into," said lawmaker Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, who until recently was a Cabinet minister and who is a longtime friend of Mubarak. "If there are elections like the Americans want, I wouldn't be surprised if the Muslim Brotherhood didn't win a majority, it would win half of the seats in parliament," he told Army Radio. "It will be a new Middle East, extremist radical Islam." Three decades ago, President Jimmy Carter urged another staunch American ally, the Shah of Iran, to loosen his grip on power, only to see his autocratic regime replaced by the Islamic Republic. More recently, US-supported elections have strengthened such groups as Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in the Palestinian territories and anti-American radicals in Iran. "Jimmy Carter will go down in American history as 'the president who lost Iran,'" the analyst Aluf Benn wrote in the daily Haaretz this week. "Barack Obama will be remembered as the president who 'lost' Turkey, Lebanon and Egypt, and during whose tenure America's alliances in the Middle East crumbled," Benn wrote. Israel has tremendous respect for Mubarak, who carefully honored his country's peace agreement with Israel after taking power nearly 30 years ago. While relations were often cool, Mubarak maintained a stable situation that has allowed Israel to greatly reduce its military spending and troop presence along the border with Egypt. He also worked with Israel to contain the Gaza Strip's Hamas government and served as a bridge to the broader Arab world. Israeli leaders have said it is essential that whoever emerges as Egypt's next leader continue to honor the peace agreement. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed similar sentiments this week when he warned that "if extremist forces are allowed to exploit democratic processes to come to power to advance anti-democratic goals, as has happened in Iran and elsewhere, the outcome will be bad for peace and bad for democracy." The Israeli concept is that the US rushed to stab Mubarak in the back," said Eytan Gilboa, an expert on the US at Bar-Ilan University. "As Israel sees it, they could have pressured Mubarak, but not in such an overt way, because the consequence could be a loss of faith in the US by all pro-Western Arab states in the Middle East, and also a loss of faith in Israel," he said.

FOJ Note: I have always suspected that President Barack Obama was planted in our country to become the first Muslin leader of our country. Instead of being a political naif, as suggested herein, he may in fact be doing just what he was sent here to do. That is why our forefathers required a person running for president to “verify his national birth certificate” before being eligible for president. Perhaps this is why he “bows to Muslim leaders.



UFO 'Sighted' Over Temple Mount?


Feb. 4….(Arutz) At least three videos taken simultaneously appear to show an unidentified flying lighted object, a UFO, in common parlance, hovering directly over the Temple Mount late this past Thursday night. One video was apparently taken by a tourist from the United States, from within or very near to the Old City, and the others were taken by Israelis at the Haas Promenade, less than three kilometers away. The videos have been posted on Youtube, including a video that features two of them synchronized into one. Taken around 1AM Friday morning, the videos show a ball of light dropping towards the Dome of the Rock, remaining there for about 24 seconds, and then suddenly shooting up and away. The first video shows the light revolving around itself, and then shooting upward with no accompanying flash of light. The other videos show the light higher in the sky for an undetermined period, then floating downwards relatively quickly, and then soaring upwards immediately after a light flash. No official explanation for the phenomenon has been advanced. Some observers have noted that though the videos appear to show the same thing from different angles, the fact that other lights in the scenes are not twinkling, nor do other things appear to be moving, indicate that the "UFO" was artificially introduced into what is actually a still shot of the Jerusalem night scene. Others are convinced that the videos are accurate. A fourth video was later added, adding to both sides' certainty of their different viewpoints.



Egyptian Leadership Feels Betrayed by Obama

Feb. 4….(WND) Top members of the Egyptian government say they feel betrayed by President Obama, charging that he is acting against American interests. "Mubarak's regime feels Obama is pushing the advancement of the Muslim Brotherhood against US interests," said WND's Jerusalem bureau chief and senior reporter Aaron Klein. "They are genuinely trying to understand why Obama is seemingly championing the anti-regime protests." Klein said that a top Egyptian diplomat with whom he has developed a rapport over the last few years asked him earlier this week to explain Obama's motivation to support the opposition to Mubarak. "I told him none of this should be a surprise," said Klein, "that the Obama administration has developed an extensive relationship over the last few years with allies of the Muslim Brotherhood. "That my investigating has proven that Obama has been closely associated throughout his political career with radical-left elements who have long petitioned for policies many believe are aimed at weakening the American enterprise both domestically and internationally." The Obama administration's support for the unrest is strikingly reminiscent of Jimmy Carter's support of the Islamic revolution in Iran in 1979, which marked the birth of modern Islamist expansion.



Jordan, PA Worry About Closeness With America


Feb. 3…. (Gulf News) Ramallah: Jordan's king fired his cabinet and the Palestinian President promised to hold long-delayed elections as America's Mideast allies came under pressure for democratic reforms because of the popular protests sweeping Egypt. But the Western push for reform in this tumultuous region has backfired in the past, strengthening extremists at the expense of pro-US moderates. The Egyptian revolt against President Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule has raised two urgent questions: Will it spread and perhaps destabilize other countries, and will it bring more democracy to the Arab world? The democracy question is particularly pressing for US allies like Jordan and the Palestinian National Authority in the West Bank, which have long faced pressure from Washington to uphold democratic values. Even as they loosen the reins a bit more and in the light of their moves on Tuesday, Jordan's King Abdullah and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas appear concerned about inadvertently giving a boost to their Islamic rivals. Abbas feels he was already burned once, when his Fatah movement was trounced by Hamas in the 2006 parliament elections he called under intense US pressure. The following year, Hamas grabbed control of Gaza by force. In Jordan, Abdullah faces formidable opposition from the Muslim Brotherhood. Yesterday, Abdullah fired his government, bowing to public pressure for reform, including several large demonstrations inspired by events in Egypt as well as Tunisia earlier last month.

    The king instructed the new prime minister, Marouf Al Bakhit, to correct mistakes of the past and lead "real political reforms, which must increase popular participation in the decision-making". Earlier this week, Abbas met with his security chiefs and told them to clamp down on any protests in support of the Egyptian demonstrators and to make sure anti-Israel marches don't turn violent, a senior Palestinian security official said yesterday. Abbas told the chiefs he was concerned that loosening the grip could provide an opening to Hamas to destabilize the West Bank, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not permitted to discuss details of the meeting. Despite such worries, Abbas' Cabinet promised yesterday to set a date next week for municipal elections. The vote, which was to have been held last July, was cancelled by Fatah at the last minute when it became apparent it would likely lose to Hamas. Hamas said at the time it would not participate. Yesterday's announcement said elections would be held in the West Bank and Gaza, though Hamas again said it would not cooperate. Even if Hamas stays home and votes are only cast in the West Bank, Abbas and Fatah would be taking a risk. Peace efforts with Israel are frozen and Abbas suffered another blow last week when the widely watched TV station, Al Jazeera, reported he secretly made major concessions to Israel, citing hundreds of leaked transcripts of negotiating sessions.

   In the West Bank, dissatisfaction is bubbling under the surface, particularly among young Palestinians who belong neither to Hamas nor Fatah, said Palestinian analyst Khalil Shikaki. "They feel that the West Bank is turning into a police state," he said. Meanwhile, there have been stirrings of discontent among nations in the region that aren't US allies, notably Syria and Sudan.



Israel Urges West: Make Sure New Egypt Regime Honors Peace Deal


(FOJ) In this Sept. 17, 1979 file photo, Egyptian Vice President Hosni Mubarak meets with President Jimmy Carter in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington. Mubarak has been an instrumental player in the Israel-Palestinian Conflict and maintaining a “cold peace” with Israel, something that has made him a hated icon to many Muslims.

(Prime Minister wants international community to make clear that new leadership must meet a series of conditions similar to those posed by Hamas in order to gain recognition of legitimacy)

Feb. 3….(Ha Aretz) Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asked US President Barack Obama and a number of other Western leaders in recent days to make it clear to any new Egyptian regime that it must abide fully by the peace agreement with Israel. Senior Israeli officials said that Netanyahu would like the international community to make it clear to any new Egyptian leadership that will emerge that it must meet a series of conditions in return for receiving legitimacy in the eyes of the West, similar to those posed to Hamas following the Islamist movement's victory in Palestinian elections. The Mideast Quartet had demanded, and still requires, that in return for recognition, Hamas relinquish terrorism, recognize Israel and accept as binding previous negotiated agreements between the Palestine Liberation Organization and Israel.

    Although Netanyahu is not drawing a comparison between Hamas rule and a new Egyptian government, he would like to see, along with demands for democracy and respect for human rights, that the international community set as a condition that any new government in Cairo abide by the international agreements to which the Mubarak regime had signed, according to officials. "The matter was made clear to the Americans and many other countries," a senior official in Jerusalem said. "We are not opposed to democracy in Egypt but it is important for us to preserve the peace agreement." The Prime Minister's Bureau issued a special statement yesterday to clarify the Israeli position on the situation in Egypt. "Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel's interest is to preserve the peace with Egypt," the message read. "Israel believes that the international community must require any Egyptian government to preserve the peace agreement with Israel."



Jordan's Islamists Say New PM Must Step Down

Feb. 3….(AP) Jordan's powerful Muslim opposition on Wednesday urged the country's newly appointed prime minister to step down, calling him the wrong person to introduce democratic reforms and tackle deepening poverty and unemployment. On Tuesday, Abdullah named Marouf al-Bakhit prime minister, bowing to public pressure from protests inspired by those in Egypt against President Hosni Mubarak. Hamza Mansour, a leader of the opposition Muslim Brotherhood's political wing, rejected al-Bakhit's nomination, saying he "is not the right person for the job." "Al-Bakhit is a security man, a former army general and ex-intelligence official. He doesn't believe in democracy," Mansour told The Associated Press. Instead, he said the country needs "a national figure who can tackle Jordan's serious economic and political crisis." On Tuesday, King Abdullah, facing public pressure inspired by the revolt in Tunisia and Egypt, sacked his government and named al-Bakhit as prime minister, ordering him to move quickly to boost economic opportunities and give Jordanians a greater say in politics. Al-Bakhit, 63, is a former ambassador to Israel who supports strong ties with the US and Jordan's peace treaty with Israel, policies which the Brotherhood and the leftists oppose. The fundamentalist Brotherhood advocates the introduction of strict Islamic sharia law, close relations with Muslim nations and Israel's destruction.



Obama to Egyptian Army: Remove Mubarak Now

Feb. 3….(DEBKAfile Exclusive Report February) President Barack Obama delivered an ultimatum to Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman and the army and security chiefs: Mubarak must be removed in the coming hours or else US aid to Egypt will be cut off, Debkafile's Washington sources exclusively report. Pressure on the Egyptian armed forces to oust the president forthwith was further applied by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who called Vice President Omar Suleiman, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates who called Egyptian defense minister Mohamed Tantawi, and US armed forces chief Adm. Mike Mullen in a telephone call to the Egyptian chief of staff Gen. Sami Enan. French President Nicolas Sarkozy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and UK Prime Minister David Cameron were recruited earlier to lean hard on Egyptian army chiefs to bring Mubarak's presidency to an end in the coming hours. Our sources report that all the Israelis remaining in Egypt, including news correspondents, were evacuated from Egypt Wednesday night in view of the danger of civil warfare spreading from the first confrontation in Tahrir Square between pro-and anti-Mubarak activists on the ninth day of the campaign for his overthrow. It turned into a bloody collision with 30 confirmed dead and at least 2,000 injured, most of them protesters. Obama slapped down his ultimatum when he saw Mubarak had unleashed the strong-arm squads of his National Democratic Party against the anti-government protesters, the day after he told the nation that he would stay for the remainder of his term as president. The White House shot back: "President Barack Obama has been clear on Egypt that the transition must begin now, and now means now." Obama hardened his position following three more occurrences:

1.  The Egyptian army for the first time abandoned its neutrality and let 50,000 Mubarak supporters enter Tahrir Square where the protesters had been gathering without stopping them for inspection at the checkpoints outside. They stormed into the square on camels and horses, trampled protesters and beat about them with knives, swords, axes and petrol bombs. Until that moment, the White House had been confident that the Egyptian army was solidly behind a peaceful transition process for displacing the president. But then, alarm signals started flashing. Debkafile sources report that the US administration is trying to find out if the army has switched its support to the president on the initiative of a local commander, or the entire military command has backtracked and laid the country open to a civil conflict. An Egyptian source told Debkafile Wednesday night: The country may be descending into a bloodbath.

2.  Information reached Washington that the first appearance of violent Mubarak loyalists in Tahrir Square was not the Egyptian president's final throw but his first. The Americans have begun to understand that the 82-year old Egyptian president, although seriously ill, has no plans to go quietly as he promised in his speech to the nation Tuesday night. It is even possible that he may not go voluntarily at all.

3.  The first fissures appeared Wednesday in opposition ranks. All ten secular parties agreed to respond positively to the Vice President's invitation to dialogue on constitutional reform, excepting the Muslim Brotherhood, which is the largest and best organized of them all. Its leaders refused to have any truck with the regime or any of its leaders and demanded that Mubarak step down without further delay. The Brotherhood also heated up its denunciations of America, Britain and Israel.



The Muslim Brotherhood and the Egyptian Crisis

Feb. 3….(Dore Gold) Will the Obama administration's policy toward Egypt be based on a perception that the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood would be extremely dangerous? Or have they taken the position, voiced in parts of the US foreign policy establishment, that the Brotherhood has become moderate and can be talked to? Initial administration reactions indicate that it does not rule out Muslim Brotherhood participation in a future Egyptian coalition government. What is the Muslim Brotherhood? The Muslim Brotherhood has had an expansionist agenda right from the start, and calls for the re-establishment of the Islamic Empire.

   The current Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Muhammad Badi', gave a sermon in September 2010 stating that Muslims today "need to understand that the improvement and change that the Muslim nation seeks can only be attained through jihad and sacrifice and by raising a jihadi generation that pursues death, just as the enemies pursue life." In short, the Muslim Brotherhood remains committed to supporting militant activities in order to advance its political aims. From looking at the biographies of its most prominent graduates, one can immediately understand the organization's long-term commitment to jihadism:

1. Abdullah Azzam (of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood) and Muhammad Qutb (of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood) taught at King Abdul Aziz University in Jidda, Saudi Arabia, where they had a student named Osama bin Laden. Azzam went off to Pakistan with his student, bin Laden, to help the mujahidin fight the Soviets in Afghanistan.

2.  Ayman al-Zawahiri (bin Laden's deputy) grew up in the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.
3. Khalid Sheikh Muhammad (the al-Qaeda mastermind of the 9/11 attacks) came out of the Kuwaiti Muslim Brotherhood.

    Given this background, the Muslim Brotherhood has been widely regarded in the Arab world as the incubator of the jihadist ideology. A former Kuwaiti Minister of Education, Dr. Ahmad Al-Rab'i, argued in Al-Sharq al-Awsat on July 25, 2005, that the founders of most modern terrorist groups in the Middle East emerged from "the mantle" of the Muslim Brotherhood. Many columnists in the Middle East have warned in recent years about the Brotherhood's hostile intentions. Tariq Hasan, a columnist for the Egyptian government daily Al-Ahram, alerted his readers on June 23, 2007, that the Muslim Brotherhood was preparing a violent takeover in Egypt, using its "masked militias" in order to replicate the Hamas seizure of power in the Gaza Strip. And columnist Hussein Shobokshi, writing in the Saudi-owned Al-Sharq al-Awsat on October 23, 2007, said that "to this day" the Muslim Brotherhood "has brought nothing but fanaticism, divisions, and extremism, and in some cases bloodshed and killings." Thus, both Arab regimes and leading opinion-makers in Arab states still have serious reservations about the claim of a new moderation in the Muslim Brotherhood.



Israel, Jews Honor First Christian Zionist

Feb. 3….(Israel Today) Rev. William Henry Hechler was the first modern Christian Zionist, and a long-time confidante and backer of Zionist leader Theodor Herzl. On Monday, Israeli diplomats, Jewish leaders from around the world and a large gathering of Christians and Jews thankful for the contributions Hechler made to the Zionist cause gathering in north London to pay their respects and finally provide him with a proper tombstone. Rev. Hechler was the chaplain for the British Embassy in Vienna in 1896 when he first read Herzl’s “The Jewish State.” As a strong believer in biblical prophecy, Hechler recognized that the time for the restoration of the Jews to their ancient homeland had come. Three years earlier, Hechelr had penned his own pamphlet on the matter titled “The Restoration of the Jews to Palestine According to the Prophecy.” Hechler quickly befriended Herzl and used his connections in German royal society to get the Zionist leader audiences with Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany and Sultan Abdul Hamid II of the Ottoman Empire, which as the time controlled the Holy Land. Hechler was constantly at Herzl’s side until the latter’s death in 1904. Hechler himself also never saw the fulfillment of his and Herzl’s work, dying in north London in 1931. Alone and penniless, Hechler was buried in an unmarked grave, hence the need to finally provide him with a proper tombstone. Jerry Klinger, president of the Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation, spent years searching for Hechler’s gravesite. Last year, he found it, and began the process of setting up a tombstone dedication and a memorial service for the original Christian Zionist. Klinger told The Jerusalem Post that his work on this matter “was a Zionist obligation.” Klinger went on to explain, “It has long been recognized that without Hechler’s intercession and support, Herzl may have simply remained an obscure, eccentric Viennese journalist. The course of Zionism, and possibly the very founding of the modern State of Israel, may not have been successful.” At Monday’s ceremony, Israeli Ambassador to Britain Ron Proser noted that “Britain and Israel enjoyed a friendship long before the establishment of the State of Israel, as a result of the committed efforts of British Christian Zionists. Marking Rev. Hechler’s prominent place in the rich tradition of Christian Zionism in Britain, on the 80th anniversary of his passing, is especially timely.” Alan Aziz, director of the Zionist Federation of the UK, added, “It is very important to Israel and the Jewish people to recognize the incredible efforts and friendships made by our friends and supporters in the Christian world.”



Mike Huckabee: Yes to a Palestinian State, but Not in Israel

Feb. 3….(Israel Today) Possible US presidential candidate and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee was in Israel this week to once again demonstrate strong support for Jewish rights to settle their biblical homeland. Speaking to reporters in Jerusalem, Huckabee said the Palestinians have the right to self-determination, but not sovereignty over this land. “I think there probably should be a Palestinian state, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be on the tiny postage-stamp-size piece of land that is Israel,” he said. “I’m not against a Palestinian state. I am against, and not really against, but I’m just being realistic, I don’t see how it works to put two people and two governments right on top of each other.” Huckabee went on to blast the Arab position, which has been adopted by the rest of the world, that the Jews must stop building in Judea and Samaria, lands claimed by the Palestinians, in order for peace to be achieved. “To tell Jewish people, ‘You cannot live here, you cannot raise your children here,’ this is the true racism, this is apartheid,” said Huckabee. “I cannot imagine as an American being told that I could not live in certain places in America because I was Christian, or because I was white, or because I spoke English.” During his first day in Jerusalem on Monday, Huckabee let his actions do the talking when he helped lay the cornerstone for a new Jewish neighborhood on the Mt. of Olives, which lies on the side of Jerusalem claimed by the Palestinians for their future capital. The Obama Administration has demanded that Israel stop letting Jews build in those parts of Jerusalem. Huckabee, an ordained Baptist preacher who takes a solid biblical view on Israel and the Middle East conflict, is widely expected to announce his candidacy for the presidency this summer. Recent polls have shown him to be an early frontrunner in the 2012 election.


Israel Sitting on Shifting Political Sands

Feb. 3….(In The Days) As the Pharaoh Hosni I totters on his throne, both Israel and the United States are feeling the pain. So are the kings in neighboring lands. The Saudis, for one, trusted in pharaoh to keep Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, a potential rival to their leadership of Sunni Muslims — in check. As the world watches the unpredictable turmoil in Egypt, no country is paying closer attention than Israel. The peace treaty between the two states is the most important result of 40 years of negotiations between Israel and its Arab neighbors, and is still the cornerstone of any lasting settlement to this complex, bitter and dangerous dispute. From an Israeli point of view, the upheaval could not come at a worse time. Iran looms in the east, muttering about destruction of the Jewish state and working feverishly to build nuclear weapons. Hizbollah, Iran’s Lebanese ally, has just taken de facto control of that country’s government, frustrating years of joint US, European Union and Gulf Arab efforts to solidify Lebanese democracy and institutions.

    Wikileaks-style revelations from Al Jazeera about Fatah leaders’ negotiating flexibility with Israel, wildly different from their tough public stands, have undercut their credibility and generated new support for Hamas. A combination of stunning Israeli rudeness and ineptitude, along with profound changes in Turkish political culture, has strained Israel’s other major regional alliance close to the breaking point. Now Egypt, the moderate state on whom Israelis and their friends have pinned so many hopes for peace, could be on the brink of an uprising. The Muslim Brotherhood, which has strong and longstanding ties with Hamas, may storm its way into the halls of the pharaohs, even as other moderate Arab rulers review their emergency exit plans. Sixty years after the proclamation of the state of Israel, 30 years after the Camp David Accords and almost 20 years after Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat shook hands at the White House, is Israel going to be once again isolated and friendless in a hostile Middle East?

   At the moment, Israeli officials are scrambling to follow the confused and conflicting reports coming out of Cairo. It is too soon to know how this fast-moving situation will develop. In an unwelcome repetition of the Biblical Exodus, the families of Israeli diplomats have been called home from Cairo. American and other Western civilians and diplomats may be pulled out as well, though evacuating people scattered across a country of 85 million people is no easy task. Events in Egypt may stop short of this kind of break. The peace treaty with Israel is unpopular among many Egyptians, but the military understands its importance to Egypt’s own security. Détente with Israel serves Egypt’s interests, not Israel’s alone, the treaty may well survive the Mubarak regime. But if political change in Egypt leads to dramatic changes in Egyptian-Israeli relations, consequences could be profound. First, hawks in Israel will likely be strengthened. Those who insist that peace with the Arabs is impossible are likely to point to the collapse of the Egyptian-Israeli relationship to prove their point. Their argument that Israel cannot trade land for peace will resonate. Israel returned the entire Sinai to Egypt and evacuated South Lebanon and Gaza, without getting any closer to peace. Why get out of the West Bank? Whose word can they trust? President Barack Obama is likely to have an even harder time coaxing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to make concessions to the Palestinians for a peace that fewer and fewer Israelis will believe in. (If the peace survives a regime change, though, the peace camp in Israel could benefit, arguing that agreements which meet the needs of both parties can survive political turmoil.)

    Second, while US debate over the costs of our alliance with Israel could sharpen, the United States is likely to draw closer to Israel if the regional climate grows more polarized. Between 50 percent and two-thirds of the American people routinely tell pollsters they believe Israel is a close ally that the United States should support. Israel is one of a small number of countries that a majority of Americans say they are willing to defend with military force. While Israel seems relatively secure, that majority argues about whether the best way to help Israel is to push it toward concessions to the Palestinians or to support it as it hangs tough.

    The Egyptian upheaval could be an important turning point in world history. The consolidation of a reasonably moderate and democratic government in the cultural capital of the Arab world could put the region, and the world, on the road to a more durable peace. A radical victory could drive a wedge not only between Israel and the Arab world, but deepen the divide between the West and the whole Islamic world. Back in the reign of King Hezekiah, the prophet Isaiah reports that Assyria, a Mesopotamian power whose lands would ultimately become part of the Persian Empire, was besieging Jerusalem. The commander of its army taunted the Hebrew defenders: You trust in Pharaoh to rescue you, he said, but Egypt is a broken reed. If you lean on it, it will pierce your hand. We shall soon see if that warning holds good today.



Obama Stands by Muslim Brotherhood Endorsement

Feb. 3….(Arutz) For the first time, a US government supports granting a government role to an extremist Islamic organization: the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. On Monday, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Egypt's new government will have to include a "whole host of important non-secular actors." Most prominent among these is clearly the Muslim Brotherhood, which has made Islamic world domination one of its ultimate goals. It also opposes Egypt's 30-year-old peace treaty with Israel. Gibbs said the Muslim Brotherhood must reject violence and recognize democratic goals for the US to be comfortable with it assuming a role in the new government. This caveat does not significantly alter the new American approach, which is very different than that of the previous Administration, in which George W. Bush pushed Mubarak for democratic reforms but never publicly accepted a role for Islamists.

   Today, new White House chief of staff William Daley moderated the position very slightly, saying the US hopes for a "strong, stable and secular Egyptian government." Noting that the strengthening of the Muslim Brotherhood is "some people's expectation and some people's fear," Daley acknowledged that the situation in Egypt is largely out of American control. Obama's new position, while not totally surprising, is worrisome to many. "The White House appears to be leaving Hosni Mubarak, an ally for three decades and lynchpin of Mideast stability, twisting slowly in the wind," writes David Horowitz of the Freedom Center. "And worse, it appears to be open to allowing the Muslim Brotherhood to play a key role in a 'reformed' Egyptian government, as long as the organization renounces violence and supports democracy. If the Obama White House really believes this is possible, it is even more hopelessly incompetent than we imagined!"

    Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, with 600,000 members, is not on official US terrorism lists, as are Hamas and Hizbullah, but the American government has had no contact with it because of what Gibbs said were "questions over its commitment to the rule of law, democracy and nonviolence." It stands for the re-establishment of the Islamic Empire Caliphate, the takeover, spiritually or otherwise, of the entire world, and jihad and martyrdom. It has front organizations in the UK, France, and the United States.

    A former Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations, Dr. Dore Gold, writes of a fear that the Muslim Brotherhood, widely seen as having become moderate over the years, will "exploit a figure like Mohammed ElBaradei in order to hijack the Egyptian revolution at a later stage." Gold noted that ever since the Brotherhood was founded over 80 years ago, it has engaged in political terrorism, assassinating Prime Minister Mahmoud al-Nuqrashi Pasha in 1948, trying to kill President Abdul Nasser several years later, and more. "A former Kuwaiti Minister of Education, Dr. Ahmad Al-Rab'i, argued in Al-Sharq al-Awsat on July 25, 2005 that the founders of most modern terrorist groups in the Middle East emerged from 'the mantle' of the Muslim Brotherhood," Gold writes.  Even Leslie Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations, says that the prospect of the Muslim Brotherhood's rise to power "would be calamitous for US security. The Muslim Brotherhood supports Hamas and other terrorist groups, makes friendly noises to Iranian dictators and torturers, would be uncertain landlords of the critical Suez Canal, and opposes the Egyptian-Israeli agreement of 1979, widely regarded as the foundation of peace in the Mideast. Above all, the Brotherhood would endanger counter terrorism efforts in the region and worldwide. The real danger is that our experts, pundits and professors will talk the Arab and American worlds into believing we can all trust the Brotherhood."



Obama Quietly Buildings Ties With Muslim Brotherhood

(Back-door talks with movement vowing end of West, rule of Islam)

Feb. 3….(WND) President Obama and top administration officials have an extended history of reaching out to the organization representing the main opposition now in Egypt's unrest, quietly building ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and its worldwide allies. Even today, as throngs are flooding the streets of Egyptian cities targeting the regime of President Hosni Mubarak, a key US ally in the Middle East, the White House seemingly has been championing the protests. The Muslim Brotherhood seeks to spread Islam around the world, in large part using nonviolent means. Hamas and al-Qaida are violent Brotherhood offshoots. Muslim Brotherhood members reportedly were invited to attend President Obama's 2009 address to the Muslim world from Cairo. Khaled Hamza, editor of the Muslim Brotherhood website, confirmed at the time that 10 members of the Brotherhood's parliamentary bloc received official invitations to attend Obama's historic speech. Also in 2009, the Egyptian daily newspaper Almasry Alyoum ran a report claiming Obama had met with US and European-based representatives of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood that year. According to the report, the Brotherhood members requested that news of the meeting not be publicized. They expressed to Obama their support for democracy and the war on terror. The newspaper also reported Brotherhood members communicated to Obama their position that the Muslim Brotherhood would abide by all agreements Egypt has signed with foreign countries, implying that if they took power in Egypt they would continue that country's peace treaty with Israel. Besides contact with the Muslim Brotherhood itself, there have been multiple reports the past two years of behind-the-scenes contact with Hamas, which was founded as an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood. Hamas maintains a close alliance with the Brotherhood; in fact, the Brotherhood's new leader, Muhammad Badi, serves as a de facto lead spiritual guide for Hamas.

    It is not just Obama's reported contacts with the Muslim Brotherhood and the group's allies in the Middle East that have raised questions. The Obama administration also has evidenced a working relationship with several US-based Islamist organizations that are listed by the Brotherhood as "likeminded" organizations. One such group is the Islamic Society of North America, or ISNA, a radical Muslim group that was an unindicted co-conspirator in a scheme to raise money for Hamas. ISNA was named in a May 1991 Muslim Brotherhood document, "An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America," as one of the Brotherhood's likeminded "organizations of our friends" who shared the common goal of transforming countries into Muslim nations. The White House relationship with the ISNA began even before Obama took office. One week before the presidential inauguration, Sayyid Syeed, national director of the ISNA Office for Interfaith and Community Alliances, was part of a delegation that met with the directors of Obama's transition team. The delegation discussed a request for an executive order ending "torture." ISNA President Ingrid Mattson represented American Muslims at Obama's inauguration, where she offered a prayer during the televised event. Mattson also has represented ISNA at Obama's annual Ramadan dinners, including the last such event in which Obama announced support for the rights of Muslims to build an Islamic cultural center and mosque two blocks from the site of the 9/11 attacks.

    Another Muslim Brotherhood “likeminded” organization that was welcome at the White House was the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR.  WND quoted a senior Egyptian diplomat stating the Egyptian government suspects elements of the current uprising there, particularly political aspects, are being coordinated with the US State Department and Obama administration. The senior Egyptian diplomat told WND the Mubarak regime suspects the US has been aiding protest planning by Mohamed ElBaradei, who is seen as one of the main opposition leaders in Cairo. ElBaradei, former International Atomic Energy Agency chief, has reinvented himself as a campaigner for "reform" in Egypt. He is a candidate for this year's scheduled presidential elections. ElBaradei arrived in Cairo just after last week's protests began and is reportedly being confined to his home by Egyptian security forces. He is seen as an ally of the Muslim Brotherhood. The White House has been almost openly championing the unrest in Egypt. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Obama both reportedly voiced support for an "orderly transition" in Egypt that is responsive to the aspirations of Egyptians. The Obama administration's support for the unrest is strikingly reminiscent of Jimmy Carter's support of the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979, which marked the birth of modern Islamist expansion now seemingly sweeping the Mideast.



Israel’s Peace With Egypt Probably Over

(Former envoy to Egypt says new regime in Cairo would aim to harm peace with Israel. It doesn’t look good for us and for moderate Arab states. From now on, any development won’t be good for our peace with Egypt and for regional stability.)

Feb. 2….(YNET) The assumption at this time is that Mubarak’s regime is living on borrowed time of a few months, with a transition government to be established until new elections are held. Should these elections be held the way America wants, most chances are that the Muslim Brothers will win a majority and constitute the dominant element in the next regime. Hence, it is only a question of time, a short time, before our peace with Egypt pays the price. This is an extreme scenario, but a realistic one. The only people in Egypt committed to the peace treaty are members of Mubarak’s narrow camp, and should the next president not be a member of this camp, we can expect trouble. Even if the next president is Mohamed ElBaradei, it won’t be the same Egypt and it won’t be the same peace. The Muslim Brothers are watching the developments at this time and waiting for an opportunity. After they built themselves up for some 80 years in an admirable way, they have turned into the most powerful force in Egypt second only to the army. Just like Hezbollah and Hamas, the Muslim Brothers operated as a non-governmental organization and built their immense popularity by helping the poor and needy. They achieved their great popularity on the street because they always showed up before the government in helping the simple folk. With the exception of the Muslim Brothers, the Egyptian opposition is divided and lacks any power. At this time there is no person within it with status and charisma who is capable of uniting and leading all opposition fragments. Israel is not the target at this time. However, should a revolution take place and should the current regime go home, there is no doubt that the new regime will want to demonstratively harm the peace with Israel.



Israel Is Left All Alone

(In wake of Egyptian uprising, Jewish state has been left without Mideastern allies)

Feb. 2….(YNET) The uprising in Egypt reinforces Israel’s strategic distress in the Middle East: We’re alone, without any allies. It started about two years ago, in the wake of the collapse of our strategic alliance with Turkey. After Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came to power, he embraced President Hosni Mubarak and managed to form an alliance with him over the joint fear of Iranian penetration into the region. Netanyahu visited Egypt several times and brought along with him the leading expert on Egyptian affairs within Israel’s political establishment, Binyamin Ben-Eliezer. The PM managed to convince Mubarak that he has good intentions. Hence, even if he did not spare criticism, the Egyptian president gave Netanyahu a chance. Yet Mubarak’s decline now leaves Netanyahu without any Arab allies. Should Egyptian Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman replace Mubarak, this will no doubt be good for the ties with Israel. However, in the near future Egypt will be preoccupied with its own affairs and won’t be involved in the peace process. Hence, on the east Israel has been left with the suspicious regime of King Abdullah, who blames Israel for the diplomatic impasse, warns of impending doom, and refuses to meet with Netanyahu. On the north, following the fall of the Saad Hariri government in Lebanon and the rise of a Hezbollah-controlled puppet regime, the moderate camp in the Middle East lost an important element. In the territories, Mahmoud Abbas is engaged in a rearguard battle against al-Jazeera, which exposed the far-reaching concessions he made in the negotiations with Israel, thereby presenting him as a sort of traitor to his people. Now, the riots in Egypt raise fears that the Palestinian people will also develop an appetite for destruction and hit the streets in the aims of toppling their corrupt government. And if all of that isn’t enough, the Middle East has been left with a weak American Administration that gives the impression that it has given up on the Middle East. Under this state of affairs, Netanyahu may have one or two outlets: Immediately sit down with Abbas and finalize a deal that would be very similar to former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s proposal, or give up on the Palestinians and offer Damascus a real deal, withdrawal from the Golan Heights in exchange for Syrian disengagement from Iran and Hezbollah.



Mubarak Announces He'll Step Down in September


Feb. 2….(CNN) Bowing to eight days of protests, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak announced Tuesday night that he will hand over power to an elected successor "in a constitutional way" when his term ends in September. But the announcement rang flat in Cairo's Tahrir Square, where thousands of protesters erupted in chants of "Down with Mubarak" and "The people want the president to be judged" following his announcement. Mubarak has led Egypt for nearly 30 years since the 1981 assassination of his predecessor, Anwar Sadat, aided by an emergency decree that has allowed him to rule with an iron fist. But following demonstrations that have only grown in the past week, the 82-year-old former air force general told his people Tuesday night, "I have spent enough time serving Egypt." "My first responsibility now is to restore the stability and security of the homeland, to achieve a peaceful transition of power in an environment that will protect Egypt and Egyptians and which will allow for the responsibility to be given to whoever the people elect in the forthcoming elections," he said. He added, "I will pursue the transfer of power in an way that will fulfill the people's demands, and that this new government will fulfill the people's demands and their hopes for political, economic and social progress."

    Throughout the demonstrations, the world watched as the Arab world's most populous nation, a bulwark of stability and a major US ally in the region, went through the throes of what increasingly appeared to be a revolution. In Washington, a US official involved in the Obama administration's deliberations on Egypt said Mubarak's decision would be "a significant step in the right direction." The official said the White House has made clear "at the highest levels" that it wanted Mubarak to state that neither he nor his son, Gamal, would be a presidential candidate in the next elections set for September. In Cairo, the US ambassador to Egypt, Margaret Scobey, met Tuesday with opposition leader and Nobel laureate Mohamed ElBaradei and will be speaking with leaders of other political movements, a senior State Department official said. The official cautioned that Scobey's talks with ElBaradei doesn't mean the United States favors him.

    Mubarak's announcement comes less than three weeks after a wave of protests that forced Tunisia's longtime strongman to flee to Saudi Arabia in mid-January. As the Egyptian demonstrations grew, Mubarak sacked his cabinet and ordered newly appointed Vice President Omar Suleiman to hold talks on political reform with opposition leaders. But a coalition of six Egyptian parties issued a joint list of demands Tuesday. A joint statement issued Tuesday by a coalition of six political parties, including the banned opposition Muslim Brotherhood, laid out five demands for the government:

-- The resignation of Mubarak.

-- The formation of a transitional government to calm the unrest.

-- The establishment of a committee to draft a new constitution that "will guarantee the principle of equality and the circulation of power."

-- The dissolution of parliamentary councils in the wake of "forged" elections.



Jordan's King Abdullah Dismisses Government, Appoints new PM

Feb. 2….(CNN) The king of Jordan dismissed his government Tuesday and appointed a new prime minister with orders to implement political reform. The dismissal follows several protests calling for change in Jordan, protests that echo demonstrations that have swept across North Africa and the Middle East in the last few weeks. King Abdullah II asked Marouf Al Bakhit to form a government in Jordan that will implement "genuine political reform," the Royal Court said in a statement. The government will "take practical steps, quick and concrete, to launch a process of genuine political reform" and "comprehensive development," according to a letter from the king to Al Bakhit. It also will act to strengthen democracy, the letter said. Jordan has been deprived of "achievement opportunities" due to some leaders' resistance to change, the king wrote, and because they had sometimes put their own interests ahead of those of the public. The king asked Al Bakhit and the new government "to conduct a thorough evaluation process" and review laws regarding political affairs and civil freedoms to "address the mistakes of the past" and develop "a clear action plan that takes the march of reform forward." Will unrest spread to other countries? King Abdullah II also called on the new government to strengthen the institutional infrastructure and combat corruption, and prosecute those found to be involved in corruption.

    Jawad Anani, a former Jordanian deputy prime minister, told CNN the changes had to be made and that the development comes amid a "deep outcry in the Arab world" seeking change and reform. He said the king wants Jordan to be more competitive, globalized, and influential, but the management he's been choosing "has not been very successful." In Jordan, police estimated that several thousand people gathered in the capital Friday to demand more significant economic and political reforms. Protesters included Islamists, leftists and union members who marched in downtown Amman, and there were protests in six other cities as well, authorities said. The Islamic Action Front, the political arm of the Jordanian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, is orchestrating the protests in Jordan.



Israel Shocked by Obama's "Betrayal" of Mubarak

Feb. 2….(Reuters) If Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak is toppled, Israel will lose one of its very few friends in a hostile neighborhood and President Barack Obama will bear a large share of the blame, Israeli pundits said on Monday. Political commentators expressed shock at how the United States as well as its major European allies appeared to be ready to dump a staunch strategic ally of three decades, simply to conform to the current ideology of political correctness. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has told ministers of the Jewish state to make no comment on the political cliffhanger in Cairo, to avoid inflaming an already explosive situation. But Israel's President Shimon Peres is not a minister. "We always have had and still have great respect for President Mubarak," he said on Monday. He then switched to the past tense. "I don't say everything that he did was right, but he did one thing which all of us are thankful to him for: he kept the peace in the Middle East." Newspaper columnists were far more blunt. One comment by Aviad Pohoryles in the daily Maariv was entitled "A Bullet in the Back from Uncle Sam." It accused Obama and his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of pursuing a naive, smug, and insular diplomacy heedless of the risks. Who is advising them, he asked, "to fuel the mob raging in the streets of Egypt and to demand the head of the person who five minutes ago was the bold ally of the president, an almost lone voice of sanity in a Middle East?" "The politically correct diplomacy of American presidents throughout the generations is painfully naive." Obama on Sunday called for an "orderly transition" to democracy in Egypt, stopping short of calling on Mubarak to step down, but signaling that his days may be numbered. Netanyahu instructed Israeli ambassadors in a dozen key capitals over the weekend to impress on host governments that Egypt's stability is paramount, official sources said. "Jordan and Saudi Arabia see the reactions in the West, how everyone is abandoning Mubarak, and this will have very serious implications," Haaretz daily quoted one official as saying. Egypt, Israel's most powerful neighbor, was the first Arab country to make peace with the Jewish state, in 1979. Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, who signed the treaty, was assassinated two years later by an Egyptian members of the Muslim Brotherhood. It took another 13 years before King Hussein of Jordan broke Arab ranks to made a second peace with the Israelis. That treaty was signed by Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was assassinated one year later, in 1995, by an Israeli fanatic. There have been no peace treaties since. Lebanon and Syria are still technically at war with Israel. Conservative Gulf Arab regimes have failed to advance their peace ideas. A hostile Iran has greatly increased its influence in the Middle East conflict. "The question is, do we think Obama is reliable or not," said an Israeli official, who declined to be named. "Right now it doesn't look so. That is a question resonating across the region not just in Israel." Writing in Haaretz, Ari Shavit said Obama had betrayed "a moderate Egyptian president who remained loyal to the United States, promoted stability and encouraged moderation." To win popular Arab opinion, Obama is risking America's status as a superpower and reliable ally.



Israel Fears Egypt First Step Toward Radical Islamic Conquest of Middle East

Feb. 2….(Newsmax) Israeli leaders are voicing concern that radical Islamic groups will take advantage of popular protests in Egypt and elsewhere in the Muslim world and try to seize government control, according to a Bloomberg report. Meanwhile, Iranian officials unabashedly proclaim hope that the mass anti-government protests in Egypt will lead to the emergence of a more Islamic Middle East that will stand up to its bitter enemies, Israel and the United States, according to a Reuters report. Furthermore, the Islamic Republic of Iran, locked in a standoff with the West over its nuclear program, sees gains for its own geopolitical influence in the region if Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, a key U.S. and Israeli ally, is swept aside. “The sources of the instability, the central source, does not stem from radical Islam, not in Tunisia or Egypt,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday in Jerusalem at a news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. “But it is true that in a situation of chaos, an organized Islamist entity can take over a country. It’s happened in Iran and at other places as well.”

    Israel has been watching protests in the Arab world in recent weeks, starting with Tunisia, where leader Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fled on Jan. 14 following mass demonstrations. Yemen also has been the site of anti-government rallies. Israel’s shekel tumbled to a more than four-month low against the dollar during trading Monday as investors sought the relative safety of the dollar. The currency dropped as much as 1.4 percent to 3.7498 per dollar, the lowest level since Sept. 16, and traded 0.3 percent lower at 3.7080 per dollar as of 10:25 p.m. in Tel Aviv.

    Egypt’s upheaval could have a “seismic” impact on the region, and no country will feel it more acutely than Israel, analysts say. Egypt, the first Arab country to sign a peace agreement with Israel in 1979, has been cooperating with Israel to restrict arms smuggling into the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by the Hamas Islamic militant group. Egypt and Israel share a 130-mile border and they also share a concern over Iran’s nuclear ambitions. “This is a big blow,” former Israeli trade minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer told Israeli Army radio on Jan. 30. Ben- Eliezer, the Israeli politician closest to Mubarak, spoke to the Egyptian leader during the weekend. Mubarak is “the only leader that I know who identifies himself, in a clear way, with the importance of the peace agreements with Israel,” the former minister said. On Saturday, Mubarak named intelligence chief Omar Suleiman as vice president, the first time in his 30-year rule that he has named a deputy, and former air force commander Ahmed Shafik as prime minister. Suleiman as Mubarak’s replacement “would be the positive scenario” for Israel, said Eli Shaked, the country’s ambassador to Cairo from 2003 to 2005. He’s “committed to peace with Israel, the special ties with the US, and the heritage of Sadat-Mubarak,” Shaked said. A likely scenario was that he would be a transitional figure, “paving the way for the Muslim Brotherhood,” he said. “We will be changing one dictator with another, one who will be very anti-American, anti-West,” Shaked said. Jonathan Alterman, director of the Middle East Center at the Center for International and Strategic Studies in Washington, said such a change in Egypt would mean “the way Israelis calculate their entire strategic position is going to change.” It “could be a seismic change on the size of the Iranian Revolution of 1979” that brought conservative religious leaders to power, said David Makovsky, director of the Washington Institute for Near East’s Policy Project on the Middle East.

    Israel established an embassy in Cairo, its first in any Arab country, in 1980, according to Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. About 50 normalization agreements have followed, largely economic and cultural, to enhance that peace, according to the Israeli ministry. Mubarak’s hostility to Iran was on full display in 2008 diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks, in which he calls Iranians “big, fat liars” who “justify their lies because they believe it is for a higher purpose.” Israel and Egypt have cooperated to contain Hamas, the militant group that controls the Gaza Strip and smuggles weapons into the territory through tunnels from Egypt. The US, EU and United Nations consider Hamas a terrorist group.

    Israel and Egypt also are targets of the Lebanon-based militant group Hezbollah. Egypt arrested 49 alleged Hezbollah militants in April for planning to obtain explosives, among other things. And Egypt has come under attack from al-Qaida, a branch of which attacked the resort town of Sharm El Sheikh in 2005. “They’ve seen the world more commonly than they’ve differed,” Makovsky said. “Israel has to be concerned about how Mubarak’s downfall could affect the situation in the Gaza Strip,” said Yoram Meital, director of Ben Gurion University’s Herzog Center for Middle East Studies and Diplomacy in Beersheba. If the Egyptian army halts cooperation with Israel, it could allow more heavy weapons, such as anti-tank missiles, to be smuggled into Gaza, Meital said. “That would make a difference in any future military action that Israel may take in the future,” he said. Continued stability is a likely outcome even in the event of Mubarak’s ouster, Makovsky said. “The issue isn’t the individuals, the issue is the pillars of the regime,” Makovsky said, identifying those pillars as the military, the government bureaucracy, and business community. “They’ve been there so long that those foundations are strong and that coalition will withstand countervailing winds.” In that event, the Egypt-Israel peace treaty probably would hold, said Steven Cook, a senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. “It’s easier to defend something you inherit and did not create,” he said.

    Iran, the only country in the region with no diplomatic ties with Egypt, hopes that fall of the Egyptian government will lead to an Islamist takeover and boost its political power in the region, analysts say.



Muslim Brotherhood’s Message Same as Hamas: Kill Jews


Feb. 2….(Arutz) Many Western analysts agree that the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas are one and the same. One leading Brotherhood cleric has said: "Kill Jews, to the very last one.” A Brotherhood takeover of Egypt would strengthen Hamas in Gaza. Another Brotherhood leader told an Arab language newspaper Monday that Egyptians “should prepare for war against Israel." The Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas are rooted in the same ideology. "If the Muslim Brotherhood groups gain a prominent place in the government, this would definitely help consolidate Hamas's hold on Gaza,'' Atiyeh Jawwabra, a political science professor at Jerusalem's Al Quds University, told The Wall Street Journal’s Joshua Mitnick. The journalist added, “Hamas, whose founder was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, has rejected negotiations with Israel and refuses to foreswear military and terrorist attacks." “Under a different name (Hamas), the Muslim Brotherhood runs the Gaza Strip. Hamas's charter states unequivocally that it wants to eradicate Israel,” wrote Richard Cohen in the Washington Post this week.

   The Muslim Brotherhood’s ideology was made clear in the sermons of one of its leading preachers based in Qatar, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi. Two years ago, the Anti-Defamation League posted several of his teachings, one of them a call that Israel and Jews be dealt with by the Almighty who should "kill them, down to the very last one." In a sermon aired in January 2009 on Al Jazeera television, Qaradawi said, “I will shoot Allah’s enemies, the Jews, and they will throw a bomb at me, and thus I will seal my life with martyrdom.”  Two days later, Qaradawi gave another speech that also aired on Al-Jazeera, where he claimed that Adolf Hitler was sent by Allah to punish the Jews. The same month, he led a delegation of Muslim scholars who met with Arab terrorist groups, including Hamas, in Damascus "to discuss the ways to cope with a war of genocide against the people in…Gaza." On another occasion, he declared, "I support Hamas, the Islamic Jihad, and Hizbullah.  I oppose the peace that Israel and America wish to dictate. This peace is an illusion. I support martyrdom operations." Several analysts view the Muslim Brotherhood as being a minority in Egypt, and the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, traditionally against Israeli nationalism, recently opined that “There is ultimately no alternative to freedom and self-government,” even if it means that a radical Muslim group will control Egypt. During the George W. Bush administration, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was shell-shocked when aides woke her up in the middle of the night to tell that Hamas won the Palestinian Authority's first and only legislative election that the United States sponsored, and even monitored, in the Palestinian Authority. CNN somewhat played down the prospect of an Egyptian government led by the Muslim Brotherhood, quoting Egyptian analyst Mustafa Abulhimal as saying, "The Muslim Brotherhood are a small minority among those who are out on the street," he said, and added that there is no comparison  between Egypt today and Iran in 1979, when the Islamic Revolution overthrew the American-backed Shah. "The Muslim Brotherhood has nothing to do with the Iranian model, has nothing to do with extremism as we have seen it in Afghanistan and other places. The Muslim Brotherhood is a religiously conservative group. They are a minority in Egypt," he said.


Obama Tells Mubarak: Go now

Feb. 2….(DEBKAfile Special Report) In a speech to the nation Tuesday night, Feb. 1, President Hosni Mubarak defied the demands of President Barack Obama and his army generals to quit at once and leave Egypt and said he would serve out his term until September and not run again. He also swore to die in Egypt, meaning no exile for him.  Mubarak said he would devote his remaining months to managing a peaceful transition of power and called on parliament to amend the constitution so as to open up the ballot to presidential candidates and limit the president's term in office. A cheer went up in Cairo's Tahrir Square where protesters watched the speech on a huge TV screen, when Mubarak said his role was finished, although some continued to chant demands for him to go right now. The big question is whether the army and people will let Mubarak have his last months in office.

    In a final ultimatum, President Obama told Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak bluntly that his time was up. You must quit now and leave Egypt without further delay. As four million protesters marched across Egypt in a relentless drive to be rid of him, Mubarak got the same message from the heads of the Egyptian army, who may or not have been acting in tune with Washington. Barack Obama's message reached Mubarak's desk by a special messenger, Ambassador Frank Wisner. He is expected to announce in a speech to the nation Tuesday night that he will not run for a fifth term as president but serve full term. This will be seen as more foot-dragging and further infuriate the people. Our Cairo sources report that the army chiefs were horrified to see hundreds of Cairo protesters taking part in the March of Millions Tuesday hoisting Mubarak effigies on a cardboard gallows or paraded in coffins over Tahrir Square, an unprecedentedly brutal expression of rage and hate. Army leaders have begun to fear that the protesters' next step may be to haul him out of Abdeen Palace and lynch him if he stands by his refusal to step down. The Egyptian army chiefs have made plans to fill Mubarak's shoes and rule the country of 85 million as soon as he is gone. Before them are three optional procedures for bridging the transitional period up until general and presidential elections.

1.  A council of officers consisting of 3-5 generals will assume presidential powers and govern the country for the interim, or;

2.  The new Vice President, the former Intelligence Minister Gen. Omar Suleiman, will be appointed president;

3.  Chief of Staff Gen. Sami Enan will take his place in the presidential office.

It is not known if the generals have put their plan before the president or that he learned about from officers loyal to him. In parallel consultations at the US embassy in Cairo, the three options were put before Ambassador Margaret Scobey by Mohammed ElBaradei, the former International Atomic Energy Director who was chosen by opposition organizations for liaison missions. He was also in touch with the British ambassador in Cairo during the day.  By undertaking these tasks, ElBaradei, who was hardly known in Egypt, has advanced his chances of a prominent role in the post-Mubarak government. Debkafile's Washington sources report that the Obama administration has in fact put a gun on Mubarak's desk and are willing to discuss nothing more than the conditions of his departure in the next couple of days. So far, the Egyptian president has not informed the Americans or the army what is plans are and no one can tell what turn the crisis will take next.



How Does The Egypt Uprising Fit With Bible Prophecy?


Feb. 1….(FOJ) Many people are suddenly wondering what the current situation in Egypt has to do with Bible prophecy. Egypt was a prominent player in the history of the Old Testament. Egypt is mentioned in the annals of Jewish history more than any other nation. Egypt is mentioned 200 times just in the books of Genesis and Exodus and another 450 times in the Old Testament. But Egypt is only mentioned 24 times in the New Testament, (4 relative to Jesus birth, and 19 with the stories of Joseph and Jacob) but only one verse deals with a prophetic linkage. (Revelation 11:8 And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.) This verse is of course a reference to the two witnesses of God that shall prophesy during the first half (1260 days) of the Tribulation era. But the usage of the word “Egypt” as utilized here is an obvious reference to the whoredom of Jerusalem in relation to their “covenant with the Antichrist.” So then, this verse is not relative to today’s events in Egypt.

Egypt is mentioned in ‘latter days” Bible prophecy in the book of Daniel. In that prophetic scenario, we find that Egypt finds itself in the ire of the Antichrist during the Tribulation. In this setting, the King of the South (probably the Saudi king) will be agitating the Antichrist over threats emanating from the north (Magog) and from the Kings of the east. (Daniel 11:40-44 And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over. He shall enter also into the glorious land, and many countries shall be overthrown: but these shall escape out of his hand, even Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon. He shall stretch forth his hand also upon the countries: and the land of Egypt shall not escape. But he shall have power over the treasures of gold and of silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt: and the Libyans and the Ethiopians shall be at his steps. But tidings out of the east and out of the north shall trouble him: therefore he shall go forth with great fury to destroy, and utterly to make away many.)

   *Given the geo-political alignment between Egypt and the West before this week, the prophesied scenario of Daniel eleven would have been impractical. Now, all of that is changed. Since Egypt is the primary partner with Israel and the West in the Middle East peace process, the burden of stability begs ever more for a Superman of Peace! 

   God has sentenced the enemy neighbors of old Testament nations to carry a burden, a burden that will climax in the “judgement of the nations.” Like Babylon, Damascus, Tyre, Sidon, Moab, and Arabia, Egypt carries a burdensome destiny. All of these nation-burdens will find their climax in the quagmire that is the burdensome stone of Jerusalem. (Isaiah 19:1-2 The burden of Egypt. Behold, the Lord rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt: and the idols of Egypt shall be moved at his presence, and the heart of Egypt shall melt in the midst of it. And I will set the Egyptians against the Egyptians: and they shall fight every one against his brother, and every one against his neighbor; city against city, and kingdom against kingdom.)



Obama Egypt Strategy Could Place US at Risk

Feb. 1….(Ken Timmerman) The Obama administration continues to turn up the heat on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, after two years of quietly monitoring human rights abuses by his regime and doing nothing. The rapid response of the White House to the protests in Egypt contrasts starkly with the Obama administration’s total silence during the first two weeks of the Green Movement protests in Iran in June 2009, even though the Iranian protesters openly called for US support in their struggle to over-turn the re-election of president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. At the time, Obama said the United States did not want to give the impression of interfering in Iran’s domestic politics. "It is up to Iranians to make decisions about who Iran's leaders will be,” Obama said after millions of Iranians defied the government for more than four days in massive street protests demanding that their votes be counted. “We respect Iranian sovereignty and want to avoid the United States being the issue inside of Iran.” The administration displayed no such restraint in responding to the massive street protests in Egypt this past week, and even seemed to time its statements in such a way as to spark additional protests. “I’ve always said to him that making sure that they are moving forward on reform, political reform, economic reform, is absolutely critical to the long-term well-being of Egypt,” Obama said in a YouTube forum. “And you can see these pent-up frustrations that are being displayed on the streets.” The very next day, millions of Egyptians received their marching orders during Friday prayers at mosques in Cairo and other major cities, and poured out into the streets in massive demonstrations that have rocked the Egyptian regime.

    On Saturday, Mubarak announced that he was promoting his long-time intelligence chief Gen. Omar Suleiman as his vice-president, a move that was coordinated between the White House and top Egyptian military officers who met with President Obama the day before in an effort to manage a peaceful hand-over of power. Just hours later, the State Department dismissed Mubarak’s efforts, undercutting the very officers who thought they had struck a deal with the White House. “The Egyptian government can’t reshuffle the deck and then stand pat,” State Department spokesman PJ Crowly said in a Twitter message. “President Mubarak’s words pledging reform must be followed by action.” The flurry of US government statements against Mubarak and in favor of the protesters in Egypt have been described by some commentators as a clever attempt to convince the Egyptian people that the United States supports their struggle for civil and political rights, easing the transition to a pro-Mubarak government while retaining Egypt as an ally. But even some of the administration’s strongest supporters have warned that Obama is playing with fire. The administration’s support for the protesters “is a slide toward the unknown,” former New York Times editor Leslie H. Gelb wrote in Newsweek on Sunday. “Senior officials have no idea of exactly who these street protesters are, whether the protesters are simply a mob force incapable of organized political action and rule, or if more sinister groups hover in the shadows, waiting to grab power and turn Egypt into an anti-Western, anti-Israeli bastion.” Most observers fear that the US efforts to encourage the protest movement will lead to a behind-the-scenes takeover by the Muslim Brotherhood, the long-outlawed Islamist movement responsible for the assassination of Mubarak’s predecessor, Anwar Sadat, and that spawned Ayman al-Zawahri, No. 2 of al-Qaida. Such a takeover in fact may be Obama’s intention, just as his intention during the post-election protests in Iran was to support the regime in place because he saw it as a potential partner in resolving the Iranian nuclear crisis.

    The Obama administration has taken numerous steps over the past two years to convince the Muslim Brotherhood that this White House no longer views them as an enemy. Two months before Obama’s June 2009 speech in Cairo, where he offered a “new beginning” to Muslims in their relations to the United States, he welcomed two members of the Egyptian group to the White House for quiet political consultations, according to the Egyptian army newspaper, Al Masry al-Ayoum. He also lifted a ban on travel to the United States on Tariq Ramadan, a prominent Islamist scholar who is the grandson of the founder of the Brotherhood, and went out of his way to invite Muslim Brotherhood members of Egypt’s parliament to attend his Cairo speech. During the April 2009 White House meeting, the unnamed Muslim Brotherhood leaders reassured Obama that a Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt would “abide by all agreements Egypt has signed with foreign countries,” according to the Egyptian newspaper account. They also said they favored democracy and would support the US-led war on terror. But similar statements by Muslim Brotherhood in the past have regularly been parsed to mean the exact opposite of what they appeared to mean on the surface. For example, the Muslim Brotherhood does not recognize Israel as a country, so their pledge to abide by Egypt’s agreements with “foreign countries” does not apply to Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel.

    Similarly, the Muslim Brotherhood does not consider groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah to be terrorist organizations, and calls al-Qaida attacks on US servicemen in Iraq and Afghanistan acts of legitimate resistance against a foreign occupier. Hadar had warnings for the Israeli Embassy: “If the Muslim Brotherhood takes over in Egypt, it means the end of the peace treaty with Israel, and the life expectancy of the Israeli Embassy in Cairo will be calculated in minutes."

    Opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei, the former secretary general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, confirmed that he is working hand in glove with the Muslim Brotherhood on CNN’s “GPS” program with Fareed Zakaria on Sunday. “I have been reaching out to them, that we need to include them, that they are a part of Egyptian society,” ElBaradei said. ElBaradei tried to downplay the Brotherhood’s radical agenda, and dismissed any hint that Egypt would go the way of Iran in 1979, when the former shah’s regime was replaced by an Islamic dictatorship. Even if the Egyptian army agrees to allow ElBaradei to head some form of transition government, “he is likely at best to be an interim figure, putting a face acceptable to the West on a government he doesn’t control, until either the army or the Brotherhood takes over,” says Shoshana Bryen, senior director for security policy at the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs in Washington, DC.



US Secretly Preparing for Post-Mubarak Era

Feb. 1….(JWR) Even as the Obama administration maintained its cautious approach to the crisis in Egypt, suggesting that President Hosni Mubarak might be able to remain in power if he acts quickly on reforms, a former senior administration official said the White House also is preparing for a post-Mubarak era. The Obama administration is trying to deliver a consistent public message on the fast-moving events in Egypt, dispatching Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton for a round of Sunday talk show appearances. Clinton hewed to the administration's talking points, pleading for restraint by Egyptian authorities and the protesters, while prodding the Mubarak government. But although US officials have publicly encouraged "managed change" under the entrenched Egyptian leader, the former senior adviser said that as early as Wednesday the administration recognized it could not try to save the Mubarak regime at all costs. "They don't want to push Mubarak over the cliff, but they understand that the Mubarak era is over and that the only way Mubarak could be saved now is by a ruthless suppression of the population, which would probably set the stage for a much more radical revolution down the road," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity so he could be more candid on sensitive diplomatic matters. The former adviser said he had discussed the crisis with ex-colleagues still in the administration. "They recognized that change was coming and they needed to be on the right side of history and not trying to keep Mubarak in power against all odds."

    Obama tried to push Egypt in a pro-democratic direction soon after coming to power in 2009. In a much-publicized speech in Cairo, a city now engulfed in protests, Obama proclaimed that governments must reflect "the will of the people." Having delivered such a speech, Obama is hard-pressed now to throw his support behind a repressive ruler at the expense of crowds clamoring for democratic rights. Yet how the United States handles Mubarak is a tricky calculation for the administration, as he has been helpful on a range of issues important to Washington, such as fighting terrorism, Arab-Israeli peace talks and containing Iran. Middle East allies are closely watching the American response to the crisis. If Obama summarily dumps an ally of three decades, other Middle East leaders might get antsy, wondering whether he would do the same to them should protests erupt on their streets, the former administration official said. "It's a very difficult balance to be struck. Mubarak is, after all, a friend of the United States for the last 30 years," he said. "A lot of our allies in the region, the Saudis, Jordanians and Kuwaitis, will be particularly nervous if it looks like the US is doing in one of their friends. The administration understands this. "But the most important thing they understand is that they have to get in front of this and not behind it." Obama administration officials have been careful not to abandon Mubarak in public statements, but they also have not aligned themselves with him, instead saying Egyptians should decide their own fate through competitive elections.

"The determination of Egypt will be done by the people of Egypt," White House chief of staff William Daley said on CBS' "Face the Nation." Appearing on NBC's "Meet the Press," Clinton said, "I want the Egyptian people to have the chance to chart a new future. It needs to be an orderly, peaceful transition to real democracy, not faux democracy." But Obama administration officials also do not want to see Mubarak's power preserved through a crackdown by the Egyptian military, a message US military leaders reiterated to their Egyptian counterparts over the weekend.

    Obama is keeping up with events through regular staff briefings and close consultation with allies in the region. On Saturday, he spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the White House said. In the course of those conversations, Obama urged "an orderly transition to a government that is responsive to the aspirations of the Egyptian people," the White House said in a prepared statement. A current Obama administration official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said that one thing is certain: Mubarak can no longer preside over an authoritarian government. Even if Mubarak is able to withstand the protests, he can't continue the leadership style he had before the protests erupted, the official said. But powerful voices inside Egypt insist that Mubarak must go. Mohamed ElBaradei, the opposition leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner who has joined the protesters, said in an interview Sunday that Mubarak can't be trusted to usher in new freedoms. "The American government cannot ask the Egyptian people to believe that a dictator who has been in power for 30 years would be the one to implement democracy," ElBaradei told "Face the Nation."



Is El Baradei a Stooge of  Iran?


(FOJ) The Egyptian government suspects elements of the current uprising there, particularly political aspects, are being coordinated with the US State Department. A senior Egyptian diplomat said today the regime of President Hosni Mubarak suspects the US has been aiding protest planning by Mohamed ElBaradei, who is seen as one of the main opposition leaders in Cairo. ElBaradei, former International Atomic Energy Agency chief, has reinvented himself as a campaigner for "reform" in Egypt. He is a candidate for this year's scheduled presidential elections. ElBaradei arrived in Cairo just after last week's protests began and is reportedly being confined to his home by Egyptian security forces. He is seen as an ally of the Muslim Brotherhood, the main opposition force in Egypt. The Brotherhood seeks to spread Islam around the world, in large part using nonviolent means. Hamas and al-Qaida are violent Brotherhood offshoots.

Feb. 1….(Israel Today) Egypt could soon go the way of Lebanon in becoming a satellite or close ally of Iran if the current street demonstrations succeed in toppling the government of President Hosni Mubarak. Until now, the week-long protests have lacked a clear leader, someone to take over should Mubarak fall. But Mohammed ElBaradei, former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), is busy setting himself up as just such a leader. ElBaradei openly backed and took part in the demonstrations over the weekend, quickly earning him the support and admiration of most of the protestors. ElBaradei is a clean-cut diplomat with extensive ties to the international community. But Malcom Hoenlein of the Conference of Presidents of American Jewish Organizations warned everyone not to be fooled. In an interview with Yeshiva World News, Hoenlein accused ElBaradei of being a “stooge of Iran.” Hoenlein noted that during his years as head of the IAEA, ElBaradei worked tirelessly to oppose Western sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program. ElBaradei adopted and championed the Iranian line that its nuclear program was purely civilian in nature. His successors later acknowledged that ElBaradei’s reports were not accurate. The kind of leader ElBaradei would be was further revealed on Sunday when Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, the forerunner of the Palestinian Hamas, publicly endorsed him as the next president of Egypt. Meanwhile, Egyptian protestors on Monday began to express great frustration over the lack of an international response to their uprising, especially from the US. Many Egyptians noted that the Mubarak regime is deeply entrenched, and without the help of international pressure, they are unlikely to be able to dislodge it. They accused Washington of supporting a repressive dictator because doing so serves American interests in the region.



Hamas Moves to Seize Northern Sinai

Feb. 1….(DEBKA) Egyptian reinforcements reached northern Sinai Monday, Jan. 31 to hunt down Hamas gunmen from the Gaza Strip battling Egyptian forces for control of the territory. Two were captured. Debkafile's military sources report that the gunmen of Hamas's armed wing, Ezz e-Din al Qassam opened a second, Palestinian, front against the Mubarak regime on orders from Hamas' parent organization, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, confirmed by its bosses in Damascus. The Muslim Brotherhood is therefore more aggressively involved in the uprising than it would seem. Debkafile's military sources report that Sunday, Hamas gunmen attacked Egyptian Interior Ministry Special Forces (CFF) stationed in the southern Egyptian-controlled section of the border town of Rafah and the Sinai port of El Arish. Saturday, Bedouin tribesmen and local Palestinians exploited the mayhem in Cairo to clash with Egyptian forces at both northern Sinai key points, ransack their gun stores and free prisoners from the local jail. Officials in Gaza City confirmed Sunday, that Hamas's most notorious smuggling experts, including Muhammad Shaar, had broken out of the El Arish jail and reached Gaza City.

    Sunday, Hamas terrorists aimed to start pushing Egyptian forces out of the northern and central regions of the peninsula and so bring Egypt's border with the Gaza Strip under Palestinian control. Hamas would then be able to break out of the Egyptian blockade of the enclave and restore its smuggling routes in full. The reinforcements from Cairo Monday were instructed to drive them back into the Gaza Strip. Early Sunday, they began moving east through the tunnels under the Suez. Our military sources further report that the Multinational Force & Observers (MFO), most of whose members are Americans and Canadians, are on maximum alert at their northern Sinai base, while they wait for US military transports to evacuate them to US bases in Europe. This force was deployed in Sinai in 1981 for peacekeeping responsibilities and the supervision of the security provisions of the 1979 Peace Treaty between Egypt and Israel under which the peninsula was demilitarized except for Egyptian police. Ending the MFO's mission in Sinai after thirty years knocks down a key pillar propping up the relations of peace between Egypt and Israel. The Egyptian troop presence in Sinai, which violates the terms of the peace treaty, has not been mentioned by either of the peace partners. Our Jerusalem sources report the Netanyahu government may have tacitly approved it. Hamas' Gaza leaders do not seem to fear Israeli military action, or even an air attack to interfere with their incursion of Sinai and attempts to control the long Egyptian-Israeli border snaking south of the Gaza Strip along the Negev up to the Red Sea port of Eilat.



Obama Urges Mubarak to Transition Out


(FOJ) President Bush pushed democracy for the Middle East as a solution to the region’s ills. Obama is taking that position with Egypt now, in this crisis. But, the real need in the Middle East has always been the light of the Christian Gospel, and Jesus Christ. America didn’t rise because of democracy, but rather our liberty came from the power of God’s spirit and word. America today is losing its allies because of the fallacy of the worship of democracy, rather than the Creator.

Jan. 31….(World Net Daily) The United States led an international push on Sunday to force President Hosni Mubarak to yield to Egyptians' demands for democracy. But there was little sign the army was about to end his 30-year rule, just yet. Egyptian diplomat Mohamed ElBaradei, claiming a mandate from disparate opposition groups to negotiate a handover of power with the military, called on Washington to "cut off life support to the dictator." Six days of unrest has killed more than 100 people, rocked the Middle East and rattled global investors. But President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, along with European leaders, stopped short of urging the immediate departure of the 82-year-old Mubarak, who has made the most populous Arab state an ally of the West in its conflicts with Soviet communism and, now, with radical Islam.

    For many, however, the writing is on the wall. "Mubarak's time has run out," an Obama adviser told the New York Times. On the streets of Cairo and other cities, thousands kept up the momentum for change, inspired by the overthrow of Tunisia's veteran strongman Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali two weeks ago. They shared food and jokes with soldiers in American-built tanks, who kept order and let protests run into the night despite a curfew. Mubarak, himself a former general who on Friday promised to listen to popular demands, met his military chiefs. They now seem to hold his future in their hands. Egypt's defense minister also spoke by phone to Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

    The White House said Obama spoke to the British, Israeli, Turkish and Saudi leaders, allies in a US strategy for the oil-rich Middle East which has been plunged into uncertainty. It said: "The president reiterated his focus on opposing violence and calling for restraint; supporting universal rights, including the right to peaceful assembly, association, and speech; and supporting an orderly transition to a government that is responsive to the aspirations of the Egyptian people." Making good on such a transformation would spell the end for Mubarak and, potentially, for the military establishment which has run post-colonial Egypt since the 1950s. Many now see it as just a matter of time before the president steps down. "The army is in a tight spot and they are deciding what to do about the president," said Exclusive Analysis's Faysal Itani. "The army may see Mubarak as a liability. But they won't want to see him flee with his tail between his legs like Ben Ali. I think they would like to see him go but in an orderly fashion." Hoping to appease pent-up fury over poverty and oppression, Mubarak named a new prime minister on Saturday. Few Egyptians were impressed. On Sunday, he told the premier to restore confidence in the economy, curb inflation and protect subsidies. More widely, international markets have reacted to fears of instability across the Middle East. Investors have pushed up the prices of oil and of "safe haven" assets like dollars and yen.

    Baradei, the 67-year-old former head of the U.N. nuclear agency, told the crowd: "Change is coming in the next few days." "You have taken back your rights and what we have begun, cannot go back," he said. "We have one main demand, the end of the regime and the beginning of a new stage, a new Egypt." Baradei, claiming endorsement from opposition groups which range from Twitter-savvy students to the mass Islamist movement the Muslim Brotherhood, said he had a mandate to speak to the army and organize a handover to a national unity coalition. But a desire for stability, among both Egypt's 80 million people and world powers, has helped keep Mubarak at the head of Egypt's ruling military establishment for decades. It may yet allow him to stall the pace of street protests.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made clear U.S. concern about an Iranian-style Islamist takeover, something the Muslim Brotherhood says it does not want: "We don't want to see some takeover that would lead not to democracy but to oppression and the end of the aspirations of the Egyptian people."

FOJ Note….Jimmy Carter will go down in American history as "the president who lost Iran," (and biggest anti-Israel president before Obama) which during his term went from being a major strategic ally of the United States to being the revolutionary Islamic Republic. Barack Obama will be remembered as the president who "lost" Turkey, Lebanon and now, perhaps, even Egypt, and during whose tenure America's alliances in the Middle East crumbled. Who will he let fall next, Jordan? Obama began his presidency with trips to Turkey, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and in speeches in Ankara and Cairo tried to forge new ties between the United States and the Muslim world. His message to Muslims was "I am one of you," and he backed it by quoting from the Koran. President Hosni Mubarak did not join him on that stage at Cairo University, and Obama did not even mention his host. Obama apologized to the Islamic world for our incitement that caused them to attack us at the WTC on 9-11. Now, by allowing another ally to fall, he is closing ranks with Islam and the emerging Global government to encircle Israel.



Israel Watches With Concern as Egypt Teeters on the Brink


Jan. 31….(Israel Today) While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered his government to refrain from commenting publicly on the situation in Egypt, Israelis watched with concern as the regime of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak appeared ready to collapse, and wondered what that will mean for the Jewish state. Over the weekend, a large number of Egyptian troops that were went into Cairo to quell the uprising actually ended up joining the protestors, even allowing them to ride on their tanks. The pictures in local Middle East newspapers gave the impression that Mubarak’s downfall was a foregone conclusion. Mubarak has already appointed his first ever vice president, Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, in an effort to calm the waters and demonstrate that he is not trying to create a dynasty. Suleiman is well respected in Egypt, even by the opposition, and has kept himself largely clean of the corruption that has characterized Mubarak’s government. But Suleiman is also old at 74, and he has dealt roughly with Islamic extremists in the past, meaning that even if he did take over, it likely wouldn’t mean an end to the unrest. The other possibility that everyone is talking about is that the Muslim Brotherhood, the forerunner of the Palestinian Hamas, will take over. Experts have noted that he Brotherhood is the only large organized opposition force in Egypt, so if the Mubarak regime falls completely, the likelihood of a Brotherhood takeover is high. If that scenario plays out, there are many that fear Egypt will go the route of the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran. The only thing that is currently missing is a charismatic Islamic figurehead. Iranian leaders on Saturday said they were pleased with how things are going in Egypt, and said they felt the revolution there had been inspired by their own. An Egypt controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood would suddenly become the greatest regional threat to Israel, and precipitate a major restructuring of the IDF operational policies and a beefing up of Israeli forces in the south of the country. If it gains control of Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood would be in command of the Arab world’s largest and most powerful military, built on a foundation of advanced American weaponry. It would mean Israel would have to seriously consider facing a major war on two fronts, something it has not had to do since the 1973 Yom Kippur War.



Netanyahu Says Peace With Egypt Must be Preserved

Jan. 31….(My Way) Israel's prime minister said Sunday that his government is "anxiously monitoring" the political unrest in Egypt, his first comment on the crisis threatening a regime that has been one of Israel's key allies for more than 30 years. Israeli officials have remained largely silent about the situation in Egypt, but have made clear that preserving the historic 1979 peace agreement is a paramount interest. The peace, cool but stable, turned Israel's most potent regional enemy into a crucial partner, provided security on one of its borders and allowed it to significantly reduce the size of its army and defense budget. "We are anxiously monitoring what is happening in Egypt and in our region," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said before his Cabinet's weekly meeting.

   "Israel and Egypt have been at peace for more than three decades and our objective is to ensure that these ties be preserved. At this time, we must display responsibility, restraint and utmost prudence." It was the first high-level comment from Israel on the Egypt protests, which began last week with disorganized crowds demanding the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak and have grown into the most significant challenge to Egypt's autocratic regime in recent memory. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak discussed the situation in Egypt with U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Sunday, according to a statement from Barak's office. No details of the discussion were released. Over the weekend, Israel evacuated the families of its diplomats from Cairo and security officials began holding urgent consultations. Israel's primary concern is that the uprising could be commandeered by Egypt's strongest opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood, and its allies, who would presumably move Egypt away from its alignment with the West and possibly cancel the peace agreement with Israel. "Israel has an interest in Egypt being democratic, but through a process that promises sustainability," said Dan Shueftan, director of the National Security Studies Center at Haifa University. "If you have a process that starts with a desire for democracy but then sees radicals take over, then the result at the end of the process is worse than what you had at the beginning."

    The benefits to Israel of peace with Egypt have been significant. In the three decades before the peace agreement, Israel and Egypt fought four major wars. Israel now spends 9 percent of its gross domestic product on defense, Shueftan said, compared with 23 percent in the 1970s, when a state of war with Egypt still existed. Where Israel once deployed thousands of soldiers along the Egyptian frontier, today there are several hundred. This reduction allowed the Israeli economy to begin flowering in the years after the peace deal, he said. Mubarak has also served as a mediator between Israel and the Palestinians.

    If Egypt resumes its conflict with Israel, Israelis fear, it will put a powerful Western-armed military on the side of Israel's enemies while also weakening pro-Western states like Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Eli Shaked, a former Israeli ambassador to Cairo, offered a grim assessment Sunday in the daily Yediot Ahronot. "The assumption at present is that Mubarak's regime is living on borrowed time, and that a transition government will be formed for the next number of months until new general elections are held," he wrote. "If those elections are held in a way that the Americans want, the most likely result will be that the Muslim Brotherhood will win a majority and will be the dominant force in the next government. That is why it is only a question of a brief period of time before Israel's peace with Egypt pays the price," wrote Shaked.

   Some in Israel have critically compared President Barack Obama's response to the crisis to that of President Jimmy Carter to the Iranian revolution in 1979. Obama has called on Mubarak to show restraint and pass unspecified reforms in Egypt. "Jimmy Carter will go down in American history as 'the president who lost Iran,' which during his term went from being a major strategic ally of the United States to being the revolutionary Islamic republic," wrote the analyst Aluf Benn in the daily Haaretz. "Barack Obama will be remembered as the president who 'lost' Turkey, Lebanon and Egypt, and during whose tenure America's alliances in the Middle East crumbled." In the short term, Israel will face increased smuggling activities in the Sinai peninsula, where the authority of the Cairo government, never strong, has been further weakened by the unrest, said Yaakov Amidror, a former Israeli general. Weapons, fuel and other goods enter the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, which is subject to a partial Israeli and Egyptian blockade, through tunnels from the Sinai desert. "They will now try to get in everything they couldn't get in before," Amidror said. Israel captured Sinai in 1967 and then ceded it to Egypt in the 1979 peace deal. The area was demilitarized as part of the agreement.



Who are the Muslim Brothers?

(The movement wants to first prepare society, and then found a Koranic state)

Jan. 31….(Jerusalem Post) As the Egyptian popular uprising enters its seventh day on Monday, all eyes are on the Muslim Brothers, the country’s largest and best-organized opposition movement, to see how it will try to leverage the crisis to further its goal of rising to power. Founded by Hassan al- Banna in the smoky coffeehouses of Cairo in 1928, the Muslim Brotherhood believes in the establishment of a fundamentalist state ruled according to the strictest interpretation of Shari’a (Islamic law). As the movement grew, it became the target of an anxious Egyptian establishment, and in December 1948, one of its members assassinated prime minister Mahmud Nokrashi. Soon afterwards, Egyptian security forces killed Banna in retaliation. In 1954, secular nationalist leader Gamal Abdel Nasser banned the Brotherhood, and it has remained prohibited in Egypt ever since. Thousands of members were imprisoned and routinely tortured in the second half of the 20th century. The Brotherhood views secular Arab regimes as the foremost obstacle to setting up a state it believes has been ordained by the Koran. These ideas have been expressed most virulently by Islamist ideologue Sayyid Qutb, who was executed in Egypt in 1966.

   The Brotherhood’s ideology has placed it on a collision path with the Egyptian state for more than 60 years, forcing it to come up with a pragmatic, slowmoving tactical road map, that seeks to work within the current political order in order to undermine it. The Muslim Brothers share the goal of Islamist sovereignty with the global jihadi movement, led by al-Qaida, but the Brothers scorn the tactics of the jihadis, which they view as counterproductive. As the Brotherhood evolved in Egypt and then spread to other Arab countries, and beyond, its ideologues came to believe that instant jihad was useless so long as the masses were not “properly” following Islam. There would be no point in establishing an Islamic state, they reasoned, if an Islamic nation following their ideology did not first exist to populate it.

   The Muslim Brothers therefore dedicated themselves to spreading their ideology and interpretation of Islam throughout society, a process they call Da’wa, and have used charities, clinics and social aid networks to spread their ideas and prepare the public for the implementation of a Koranic state. Once an Islamic society was formed in Egypt, as well as in other Muslim states, they reasoned, an Islamic revolution would naturally erupt, or a government of their choosing would be elected without the need to fire a single bullet. Violent jihadis, on the other hand, believe that their desired state must first be created through armed revolution, and that Islamizing society is the secondary goal.

   Today, the Muslim Brothers in Egypt are led by Muhammad Badi, elected as head of the organization in 2010, who is considered too meek and uncharismatic a character to gain the backing of the multitudes of Egyptians trying to force out their government. Should free elections ever be held in Egypt, the Brothers have a reasonable chance of winning, he said. “Clearly this is a possibility. This is the most organized opposition in Egypt. The rest of the opposition groups are are a rabble.” The Brotherhood has worked with liberal parties within Egypt in recent years, and likely views former IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei, an opposition figure calling for democracy in Egypt, as “a tool that can serve them,” Podeh said. The movement is probably still biding its time to see whether the Mubarak regime will fall or not, and fears severe retaliation if it attempts a coup that fails, he said. In addition to representing a sea change within Egypt, a Muslim Brotherhood government would obviously spell bad news for relations with Israel. In 2009, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt published a draft charter on its website, in which it said that the peace treaty with Israel would be “reviewed” if it came to power.


Mubarak Announces He is not Leaving, Army Backs Him

Jan. 31….(DEBKA) The popular uprising against the Egyptian regime reached a standoff at the end of its sixth day, Sunday night, Jan. 30: President Hosni Mubarak made it clear to the armed forces chiefs whom he met at military headquarters during the day that he has no intention of bowing to the massive popular call to step down . It is from there that operations to quell the uprising against his regime are being conducted. Mubarak clearly had not intention of heeding the pressure from Washington and European capitals to listen to the people and their call for an orderly transition to "a democratic government responsive to the aspirations of the Egyptian people," reiterated by President Barack Obama Sunday. The generals then continued to pour divisions into Cairo and Egypt's main cities in an effort to assume control. However, this tactic is not working: The officers and men on the ground realize they and their tanks are extras in a show of strength to the cities without the power to exert it: they can't shoot the protesters or exercise any other form of violence. Debka’s Middle East sources report that the Egyptian crisis looks like being in for a protracted period of uncertainty unless the army, which holds the key to breaking the deadlock, decided to step in and pick a side, Mubarak or the people. The generals alone have the clout to force Mubarak to step down and get out, as happened in Tunisia, or smash the street demonstrations. This would mean a massacre, the army's identification with a repressive regime and the end of its historic acceptance as the people's army.



Iranian Leaders Hope for Islamic Republic in Egypt

Jan. 30….(YNET) Iranian leaders expressed satisfaction with the anti-government protests in Egypt, with one leader saying he believes the protesters were inspired by the revolution in his country in 1979.  Anti-government protesters hit streets throughout Egypt for fifth consecutive day, attack police forces with rocks and firebombs just hours after Mubarak promises Cabinet will resign. So far 74 people have been killed, reports say.  “Today, as a result of the gifts of the Islamic revolution in Iran, freedom-loving Islamic peoples such as the peoples of Tunisia, Egypt and nearby Arab countries are standing up to their oppressive governments,” the New York Times quoted Ayatollah Mohammad-Taghi Mesbah-Yazdi as saying. He congratulated the Egyptian people, saying their actions were "based on the principles" of the Islamic revolution. Western officials fear Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak will be replaced by a hardline cleric similar to the ayatollahs in Iran, like the Muslim Brotherhood opposition party, which also gave rise to Hamas. Mohammad-Javad Larijani, secretary general of the Iranian High Council for Human Rights and a conservative leader, also voiced a positive opinion. "In my opinion, the Islamic Republic of Iran should see these events without exception in a positive light," he said. Larijani also expressed hope that the "anti-Islamic" Tunisian government led by the ousted Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali will be replaced by a "people's government".  He was encouraged by the events in Egypt. "There, Muslims are more active in political agitation and, God willing, they will establish the regime that they want," he said. In 1979, after years of internal turmoil, the Western-backed Shah regime was toppled in Iran and an Islamic regime established instead.



Without Egypt, Israel will Have no Friends in Mideast

Jan. 30….(Ha Aretz) The fading power of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's government leaves Israel in a state of strategic distress. Without Mubarak, Israel is left with almost no friends in the Middle East; last year, Israel saw its alliance with Turkey collapse. From now on, it will be hard for Israel to trust an Egyptian government torn apart by internal strife. Israel's increasing isolation in the region, coupled with a weakening United States, will force the government to court new potential allies. Israel's foreign policy has depended on regional alliances which have provided the country with strategic depth since the 1950s. The country's first partner was France, which at the time ruled over northern Africa and provided Israel with advanced weaponry and nuclear capabilities.

    After Israel's war against Egypt in 1956, David Ben-Gurion attempted to establish alliances with non-Arab countries in the region, including Iran, Turkey and Ethiopia. The Shah of Iran became a significant ally of Israel, supplying the country with oil and money from weapons purchases. The countries' militaries and intelligence agencies worked on joint operations against Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser's rule, which was seen as the main threat against Israel and pro-Western Arab governments. Israel's next alliances were forged with Jordan's King Hussein and Morocco's King Hassan. These ties were operated in secret, as well as ties with leaders in Lebanon's Christian community. The late 1970s saw the fall of the Shah of Iran, with an anti-Israel Islamic republic created in his stead. Around the same time, Egypt and Israel broke their cycle of conflict by signing a peace agreement. Egypt positioned itself on the side of Saudi Arabia, as head of the pro-American camp. Mubarak inherited the peace agreement after President Anwar Sadat's assassination. Mubarak was cold in his public relations with Israel, refusing to visit the country except for Yitzhak Rabin's funeral, which decelerated normalization between the countries. Relations between the Israel Defense Forces and the Egyptian army were conducted on a low level, with no joint exercises. Egyptian public opinion was openly hostile towards Israel and anti-Semitic terminology was common. Civil relations between the countries were carried out by a handful of government workers and businessmen.

   Despite all of this, the "cold peace" with Egypt was the most important strategic alliance Israel had in the Middle East. The security provided by the alliance gave Israel the chance to concentrate its forces on the northern front and around the settlements. Starting in 1985, peace with Egypt allowed for Israel to cut its defense budget, which greatly benefited the economy. Mubarak became president while Israel was governed by Menachim Begin, and has worked with eight different Israeli leaders since then. He had close relations with Yitzhak Rabin and Benjamin Netanyahu. In the last two years, despite a stagnation in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians and worsening relations between Netanyahu and the Arab world, Mubarak has hosted the prime minister both in Cairo and in Sharm el-Sheikh.

    The friendship between Mubarak and Netanyahu is based on a mutual fear over Iran's strengthening and the rising power of Islamists, as well as over the weakening and distancing of the US government with Barack Obama at its head. Now, with Mubarak struggling over the survival of his government, Israel is left with two strategic allies in the region: Jordan and the Palestinian Authority. These two allies promise to strengthen Israel's Eastern battlefront and are also working to stop terror attacks and slow down Hamas. But Israel's relationship with these two allies is complicated. Joint security exercises are modest and the relationship between the leaders is poor. Jordan's King Abdullah refuses to meet Netanyahu, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is waging a diplomatic struggle against Israel's right-wing government. It's hard to tell how Jordan and the PA could fill the role that Egypt has played for Israel.

    In this situation, Israel will be forced to seek out new allies. The natural candidates include Syria, which is striving to exploit Egypt's weakness to claim a place among the key nations in the region. The images from Cairo and Tunisia surely send chills down the backs of Syrian President Bashar Assad and his cronies, despite the achievement they achieved with the new Hezbollah-backed Lebanon government. As long as the Arab world is flooded with waves of angry anti-government protests, Assad and Netanyahu will be left to safeguard the old order of the Middle East.



Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood Calls for Transfer of Power

Jan. 30….(HaAretz) The Muslim Brotherhood, the largest opposition movement in Egypt, has called for President Mubarak to relinquish power in a peaceful manner, AFP has reported, as tens of thousands of protesters demonstrated in the streets across the country. The Muslim Brotherhood is officially banned from running for elections for parliament, though some movement members candidate for parliament as independents. Al Jazeera news reported that Egyptian pro-democracy leader, Mohamed ElBaradei called on Mubarak to step down and set a framework for transition of power as the only way to end street unrests that have rocked Egypt. The former head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog told Al Jazeera in a phone interview that Mubarak's speech on Friday, in which he said he would form a new government, was "disappointing" for Egyptians. Egypt has been one of the United States' closest allies in the region since President Anwar Sadat made peace with Israel in 1979 after talks at Camp David. Mubarak kept that deal after Sadat's 1981 assassination and has been a close partner of every US president since Jimmy Carter, helping Washington exert its will on issues that range from suppressing Islamist violence to counterbalancing the rise of Iran's anti-American Shiite theocracy. Mubarak has not said yet whether he will stand for another six-year term as president in elections this year. He has never appointed a deputy and is thought to be grooming his son Gamal to succeed him despite popular opposition.



Global Markets Tumble on Egypt Unrest, Oil Jumps


(FOJ) Protests in Egypt are sending the markets down and oil up. The situation could have ripple effects worldwide if the Suez Canal becomes jeopardized or even shut down.  According to Canaccord Genuity, “this may be impactful as approximately 1.8 million bb/d of oil was transported through the Suez Canal in 2009. A closure of the canal would result in an extra 6,000 miles of travel for any oil being transported out of the region, an additional cost which could drive up oil prices.”  International oil prices are already racing towards the $100 a barrel mark.

Jan. 30….(Reuters) Stock markets around the world slumped, crude oil prices surged and the dollar gained on Friday as images of escalating violence and chaos in Egypt gripped investors and raised concerns the protests will spread across the Middle East. Money managers, who in recent months had been accelerating moves into riskier assets, dumped stocks and piled into safe-haven investments like US Treasuries, the dollar and gold as non-stop media coverage of skirmishes between protesters and Egyptian police overwhelmed all other news. Wall Street's benchmark S&P 500 index suffered its biggest one-day loss in six months. Some said the sudden eruption of violence could spur a longer-term sell-off after a strong rally in riskier assets like stocks and emerging markets. "I think the next two to three weeks, the crisis in Egypt and potentially across the Middle East might be an excuse for a big sell-off of 5 percent to 10 percent," Keith Wirtz, president and chief investment officer at Fifth Third Asset Management in Cincinnati. Traders and investors fear the protests could spread across the oil-rich region and lead to disruptions to Middle East commerce. Global political pressure could also heat up because of the security threat posed to Israel by deepening instability to a key regional ally. The natural American tendency is to support individual freedoms, freedom of religion, freedom of expression and freedom of association, which constitute inalienable US assets and the essence of the American nation. However, democracy at home is one thing, while democracy abroad is an entirely different matter.



Obama & America’s Foreign Policy Dilemna

Jan. 30….(YNET) In order to preserve its global hegemony, the US over the years knew how to openly endorse democratic reforms in the Arab world and other regions, yet at the same time support tyrants such as Mubarak and the Saudi and Jordanian kings, as long as they were loyal to the US and to the West, of course. When former President George W. Bush attempted to push the Middle East to adopt democracy, in the wake of the Iraq takeover and the toppling of Saddam Hussein, he insisted on holding elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council, contradictory to Israel’s and the Palestinian Authority’s position. Hamas ended up winning most seats in the subsequent vote. Meanwhile, Bush’s democratization ideas in Lebanon opened the door for Hezbollah’s integration into parliament and beyond. Obama appears to be more pragmatic than his predecessor on this front. He issued statements in favor of democracy, including in the famous Cairo speech, yet at the moment of truth he lowered his profile. The State of the Union Address Tuesday constituted an opportunity to speak about democracy, yet the word “Egypt” was not mentioned in the speech. Tunisia, however, was mentioned. The latest developments in the Arab world caught the American Administration in a helpless position as it desperately seeks the help of its diplomats, and mostly its intelligence arms, in making sense of where the wind is blowing.

Mubarak ignored US advice

The only thing which Washington can provide the Middle East with at this time is declarations, with officials in Egypt and across the Arab world closely monitoring any nuance uttered by America. Egypt is a strategic anchor of US policy and serves as the basis for supporting the peace process with Israel. The toppling of Mubarak would be far from guaranteeing democracy, yet officials in Washington are concerned that they are late in understanding what’s happening, and that the masses will not forgive the US for failing to stand by them at the moment of truth. Is this the reason why America has been changing its tone? Secretary of State Clinton and other Administration officials have been displaying their superb rhetorical tricks in recent days, endorsing Mubarak yet also urging him to allow the protests against him to go on. By Friday night, the White House was threatening to reduce foreign aid to Egypt depending on Cairo’s response to the protests. Earlier, Clinton made it clear that "We support the universal rights of the Egyptian people including the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly, and we urge the Egyptian authorities not to prevent peaceful protests or block communications, including on social media sites. We believe strongly that the Egyptian government has an important opportunity at this moment in time, to implement political, economic and social reforms to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people." Mubarak, by the way, did the exact opposite of the advice he received from his American friends and allies.



Israel Silently Watches Peace Partner Fall

Jan. 30….(DEBKAfile Exclusive) Egypt, one of the only two Arab states to sign peace with Israel, is wobbling dangerously on the brink of revolutionary change with potentially spreading fallout. This week, Israel was dismayed to find itself looking suddenly at three latently hostile fronts about to spring up around its borders: Lebanon, which has dropped into the Iranian orbit, followed by Egypt, which is heading for terra incognita, and the Gaza Strip, where the Palestinian Hamas, offshoot of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, has gained altitude as a Middle East player from the rise of its less radical parent. Indeed Gaza's rulers, who are close to Iran, are puffing themselves up as a bridge between the Shiite Revolution of Iran and the Sunni-led revolution of Egypt. In the five days of the Egyptian upheaval from Tuesday, Jan. 25, none of the Israeli Middle East experts and pundits interviewed in one broadcast after another pointed to the three most pertinent common factors of the regime changes overtaking Tunisia, Lebanon and Egypt, all in the space of days.

1. Not a single protester or slogan-bearer summoned up the Israeli-Palestinian dispute as a factor in the most revolutionary transformations to overtake the region's countries in half a century.  The Palestinians issue was totally absent from street demonstrations and Iran's takeover of Lebanon, giving the lie to the decades-long claim by Western decision- and opinion-makers that the Israel-Palestinian conflict was the root-cause of instability in the Arab and Muslim worlds and if it were not settled, those worlds would turn against the West. The Palestinians were plainly far from the minds of this week's Arab demonstrators.

2.  The force most energized by the popular uprising in Egypt week turns out to be the extremist Hamas, the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, not only in Gaza and the West Bank, but also in Jordan. Its enhanced potency makes it a menace for Mahmoud Abbas, leader of the rival Fatah, and the Hashemite throne in Amman. Flexing his new muscles, Hammam Saeed, head of the Muslim Brotherhood of Jordan and a close ally of the Hamas's Damascus-based leader, Khaled Meshaal, said this in Amman Saturday, Jan. 29: "Egypt's unrest will spread across the Mideast and Arabs will topple leaders allied with the United States." Debkafile's Middle East experts predict that however the Egyptian uprising turns out, and in whichever direction it is pushed and pulled by the United States, it will end in a new parliamentary election and a new civilian government in which the Muslim Brotherhood will be substantially represented. That government will not abrogate the 1979 peace treaty binding Israel and Egypt for 33 years, no Cairo administration will risk losing the substantial aid package from America, but its format will change. The intimacy of day-to-day cooperation on common security and other matters may well be disappear and Israeli political, military and intelligence figures will not longer be welcome in Cairo for consultations on common concerns as they are today. The Palestinian leader Abbas may also find the welcome mat withdrawn, unless he is willing to succumb to Hamas and cede control of the West Bank to the Palestinian extremists. Both sets of visitors will be replaced by Hamas leaders from Damascus, Beirut and the Gaza Strip beating a path to the Egyptian capital.

3.   Over the weekend, more than one high Iranian official was patting himself on the back over the way the Egyptian upheaval was turning out, especially the Al Qods Brigades commander, Qhassem Soleimani, whom Debkafile's exclusive sources disclose has just been promoted to Major General, the second highest rank in Iran's armed forces.

For 15 years as Al Qods chief, he has overseen all of Iran's clandestine, sabotage and subversive operations in neighboring Afghanistan and Iraq, managed Hizballah's terrorist and spy cells active in West and East Africa, built up Hizballah as the leading military force on home ground in Lebanon, and developed the military prowess of the Palestinian Hamas and Jihad Islami in the Gaza Strip. Soleimani feels triumphantly vindicated in his decision to build up Hamas as Hizballah No. 2 and furnish the Palestinian extremists in the Gaza Strip with the missiles and weapons systems required to make them a formidable military force. The Al Qods Brigades chief now takes credit for Hamas's readiness for the enhanced role it has gained from the popular uprising in Egypt. But Israel's strategic planners should be kicking themselves for failing to curb Iran's military expansion into Lebanon and the Gaza Strip before it developed. The consequence of their inaction is two new long potentially hostile borders to Israel's south.




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