Saddam's Death, Page 26
attempt to destroy political holism in the middle east

See also: Page 25: may 2013 - june 2013

"Nasser, as the activist leader of Pan-Arabism, became an idealized model for Saddam Hussein. At age 20, inspired by Nasser, Saddam joined the Arab Ba'th socialist Party in Iraq and quickly impressed party officials with his dedication. Two years later, in 1956, apparently emulating Nasser, Iraqi Army General Qassem led a coup which ousted the monarchy. But unlike Nasser, Qassem did not pursue the path of socialism and turned against the Ba'th party. ... Saddam went to Egypt to study law, rising to leadership ranks in the Egyptian Ba'th Party. He returned to Iraq after 1963 when Qassem was ousted by the Ba'ths and was elected to the National Command.
Michel Aflaq, the ideological father of the Ba'th party, admired young Hussein, declaring the Iraqi Ba'th party the finest in the world.... (Dr. Jerrold M. Post)

"Gamal Abdel-Nasser continues to inhabit Egypt because, like Bonaparte, he is the representative of an age of certain national glory, despite the mistakes and the military debacle. But there is more to it than this. Above all, he symbolises for Egyptians the expression of their independent national will. It is this that remains. It is in this that we must seek our project for the future" (Liberating Nasser's legacy, Al-Ahram Weekly 2000)

Index Page

Saddam began rebuilding the ruins of ancient Babylon. Saddam put up a large mural of himself next to Nebuchadrezzar at the entrance to the ruins. And echoing Nebuchadrezzar's practice, Saddam had his own name inscribed on the bricks used in the reconstruction. The inscriptions are reported to read: "This was built by Saddam Hussein, son of Nebuchadnezzar, to glorify Iraq"


An ancient Semitic city in the Euphrates valley, which after 2250 B.C., as the capital of Babylonia, became a center of world commerce and of the arts and sciences, its life marked by luxury and magnificence. The city in which they built the Tower of Babel, its location coincides approximately with that of the modern city of Baghdad - now the center of a vast agricultural community. The Babylonians attached great importance to the motions of the planets, accurately fixed their orbits and worked out tables of the phases of the Moon, whereby eclipses could be correctly predicted. Their great astrological work, "The Illumination of Bel," was compiled within the period of 2100-1900 B.C..
Babylon is generally conceded to have been the cradle of astrology. It was overthrown in 539 A.D., by Xerxes, the Persian. (

About political holism

Political holism is based on the recognition that "we" are all members of a single whole. There's no "they," even though "we" are not all alike. Because "we" are all part of the whole, and therefore interdependent, we benefit from cooperating with each other. Political holism is a way of thinking about human cultures and nations as interdependent. Political holists search for solutions other than war to settle international disagreements. Their model of the world is one in which cooperation and negotiation, even with the enemy, even with the weak, promotes political stability more than warfare. In an overpopulated world with planet-wide environmental problems, the development of weapons of mass destruction has rendered war obsolete as an effective means to resolve disputes.

Political dualists consider political holists unpatriotic for questioning the necessity to defeat "them." In times of impending war, political dualists tend to measure patriotism by the intensity of one's hostility to the country's immediate enemy. Naturally, they would view as disloyalty any suggestion that the enemy is not evil, any call for cooperation with the enemy, any criticism of one's own country.
To political dualists, cooperation with the enemy means capitulation, relinquishment of the nation's position of dominance.

At its extreme, political dualism is essentially tribalism. (Betty Craige, 16-8-1997)

Zie ook: Gilad Atzmon & Het tribalisme

President Bashar al-Assad:
"Armed with knowledge to confront obscurantism"
Syrian Arab News Agency, May 05, 2013

DAMASCUS, (SANA)_ President Bashar al-Assad on Saturday participated with thousands of students in the inauguration of the memorial of Syrian Universities' Martyrs at Damascus University.
After the inauguration ceremony, President al-Assad talked with the families of the martyrs and a group of students, stressing that the terrorist groups targeted university students and institutions because of their obscurantist ideology.
President al-Assad added that these groups which are fighting the Syrian people and their regional and western supporters could not bear the statue of Abu al-Alaa al-Maarri or the Suspension Bridge of Der Ezzor, which is a cultural monument, so they will not bear the idea of Syrian youths who are armed with knowledge to confront their obscurantism and criminality.

Al-Ma'arri: The Rights of Reason

Abul 'Ala Al-Ma'arri (born AD 973 / AH 363, died AD 1058 / AH 449) was a blind Arab philosopher, poet and writer.
He was a controversial rationalist of his time, attacking the dogmas of religion rejecting the claim that Islam or any other religion possessed the truths they claim and considered the speech of prophets as a lie (literally, "forge") and (some of it) "impossible" to be true.
He was equally sarcastic towards the religions of Muslims, Jews, and Christians. He was also a vegan who argued for animal rights.

He started his career as a poet at an early age, at about 11 or 12 years old. He was educated at first in Ma'arra and Aleppo, later also in Antioch and other Syrian cities. Among his teachers in Aleppo were companions from the circle of Ibn Khalawayh. This grammarian and Islamic scholar had died in AH 370 (AD 980/1), when Al-Ma'arri was still a child. Al-Ma'arri nevertheless laments the loss of Ibn '_alawayh in strong terms in a poem of his Risalat al-ghufran. ...
Al-Ma'arri was skeptic in his beliefs and denounced superstition and dogmatism in religion. Thus, he has been described as a pessimistic freethinker. One of the recurring themes of his philosophy was the rights of reason against the claims of custom, tradition and authority.
Al-Ma'arri criticized many of the dogmas of Islam, such as the Hajj, which he called, "a heathen's journey."
He rejected claims of any divine revelation. His creed was that of a philosopher and ascetic, for whom reason provides a moral guide, and virtue is its own reward.

His religious skepticism and positively antireligious views are expressed in a poem which states "The inhabitants of the earth are of two sorts: those with brains, but no religion, and those with religion, but no brains."
He was equally sarcastic towards the religion of Islam as he was towards Judaism and Christianity. Al-Ma'arri remarked that monks in their cloisters or devotees in their mosques were blindly following the beliefs of their locality: if they were born among Magians or Sabians they would have become Magians or Sabians. (Wikipedia info)

Muslim societies are in crisis
Dr. Abdul Mu’ti

An Islamic saying – reportedly derived from al-Shafi‘i – states that anyone who wants the world, he should be knowledgeable, and anyone who wants the hereafter, he should be knowledgeable, and anyone who wants both, he should be knowledgeable.

In his eye-opening book 'Closing of the muslim mind', foreign policy expert Robert R. Reilly uncovers the root of our contemporary crisis: a pivotal struggle waged within the Muslim world nearly a millennium ago. In a heated battle over the role of reason, the side of irrationality won. The deformed theology that resulted, Reilly reveals, produced the spiritual pathology of Islamism, and a deeply dysfunctional culture.

Today most of Muslim societies are in crisis – politically, economically and culturally. One of the striking features, as well as arguably one of the main causes, of this crisis is the deficiency in Muslim science and technology. The Muslim world has disengaged from science and the process of creating new knowledge – though they were world leaders in science and technology a millennium ago. ...

Developing multiple approaches to solving problems is necessary. In our world, diversity has been the essence of survival. In Ziauddin Sardar’s word (1988), “it is not the fittest who survive, but those who use plurality of means”. Therefore, monolithic approaches to reform would be insufficient and lead to disappointment.
If Muslim scholars divert their focus of concern away from debating which path is the best onto maximizing their energy to benefit from all paths, we could potentially help flourish science and technology in Muslim countries more rapidly.
Developing multiple approaches could also mean that we have to engage people from diverse fields and backgrounds to address our common challenges, including civil society activists, business people, journalists, politicians, religious leaders and interfaith organizers. The diversity of actors might contribute to the level of success we would able to achieve.

To respond to contemporary intellectual challenges, Muslim community has to enable the (re)emergence of a great deal of responsible, independent, devoted, creative intellectuals from within the community itself, particularly among youth and women – who have been increasingly capable of being active, leading actors in society partly due to much better access to training and education facilities.
The Muslim world today is sometimes said to be devoid of intellectuals (people who pose, define, analyze and solve problems in society), partly because many of Muslim societies seem to be anti-intellectual.
Intellectuals are the group of people in a society who are able to move away from the confines of specialism or professionalism to see problems in their wider, holistic perspective.
Producing intellectuals is surely a much heavier task than producing mere print scholars, researchers, professionals and specialists.

Dr. Abdul Mu’ti is Professor at the State Institute for Islamic Studies (IAIN) Walisongo, Semarang, Indonesia.

McCain Excuses Syrian Rebel War Crimes,
Suggests He’d Tolerate Extremist Takeover Of Syria
By Ben Armbruster, June 04, 2013

"Information Clearing House - Sen. John McCain on Monday (3-6-2013) downplayed atrocities being committed by Syrian rebel forces and suggested that he would be willing to tolerate extremists taking over Syria because they would most likely not be allied with Iran.
McCain has been a forceful advocate of U.S. military intervention in Syria and has spent months in television and other media interviews trying to make his case. The Arizona Republican continued that campaign last night during an interview with Charlie Rose on PBS, highlighting the war crimes Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces have committed to justify more U.S. intervention. When Rose noted that rebels are also committing war crimes, McCain brushed them off:
"But you know, Charlie, you see that as isolated incidents of people who have just gotten so battle-hardened and angry and this happens in warfare. What you’re seeing from the other side is orchestrated training and tactics to intimidate and cow the population from the Bashar al-Assad side...."

Rose later challenged the idea of greater U.S. involvement in Syria’s civil war, noting that — because many of the forces battling Assad have strong ties to al-Qaeda — there’s a chance that those who take over in the event Assad would fall would be no friend to the United States. But McCain dismissed that concern as well, suggesting — most likely correctly — that any Sunni al-Qeada affiliated group won’t be allied with Shiite dominated Iran:

- MCCAIN: So if Bashar al-Assad wins the connection to Hezbollah remains, Iranians mischief throughout the region continues. [...]
- ROSE: Notwithstanding that Syria might become a failed state and might be ruled by, you know, a group of people who have no interest in good relationships with the United States?
- MCCAIN: But not an ally of Iran, seeking to facilitate their efforts to create mischief throughout the Middle East...

Sectarianism and the Irrational New Discourse
By Ramzy Baroud, Palestine Chronicle, 11-6-2013

" boundary separates us
and no religion differentiates us
we had a civilisation in the past
we will bring it to life even if it was buried..."

While Arab nationalist movements eventually fragmented, were weakened or defeated, an Arab identity survived. Long after Nasser died, and even Anwar Saddat signed the Camp David accords, thus breaking with Arab consensus, school children continued to sing “Arab homelands are my home, from the Levant to Baghdad, from Najd to Yemen and from Egypt to Morocco.”

The war over Arab identity however never ceased, as it continued to manifest itself in actual and figurative ways. Israel and western powers, vying for military dominance, regional influence and ultimately resources, did the best they could to shatter the few semblances that sustained a sense of unity among Arab nations that survived despite numerous and perhaps insurmountable odds. ...

Intellectual extremism
that justifies the butchering of people

Despite my insistence on optimism, I find the current political discourse hateful, polarizing and unprecedentedly defeatist. While Muslim political elites are sharply divided between Shia and Sunni, assigning layers of meaning to the fact that one is born this way or that, this wrangling has been weaved into a power play that has destroyed Syria, awakened past animosities in Lebanon and revitalised existing conflict in Iraq, further devastating the very Arab identity.
Iraq’s historical dilemma, exploited by the US for immediate gains, has now become a pan-Arab dilemma. Arab and Middle Eastern media is fomenting that conflict using terminology loaded with sectarianism and obsessed with erecting the kind of divides that will bring nothing but mistrust, misery and war.
Resurrecting Nasser’s and Afflatus’s Arab nationalism might no longer be possible, but there is a compelling need for an alternative discourse to the type of intellectual extremism that justifies with disturbing lucidity the butchering of [people], because of their sect or religion.

Bill Clinton: "a patsy for the hawks"
Posted on 06/14/2013 by Juan Cole

Former president Bill Clinton criticized President Obama for his inaction in regard to Syria. This step seems extraordinary and surely has something to do with positioning Hillary Clinton to run as a more hawkish New Democrat...
As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton appears to have pushed for arming the Syrian rebels, but could not get Obama’s backing for the move.

Bill Clinton’s criticism is extremely unfair, since there are many bad situations in the world in which the US cannot fruitfully intervene, and Clinton knows this sad truth all too well.
In 1992-2002 Algeria’s secular generals, tied to France and fueled by petroleum, fought a bloody dirty war against the Islamic Salvation Front and other devotees of political Islam. The world watched in horror as an estimated 150,000 people died. And yet, Clinton never directly intervened. Behind the scenes France backed the generals, and the latter won... Nobody remembers Clinton’s paralysis in Algeria, contrary to what he is now predicting about Obama and Syria. This is because if you avoid a quagmire as president, no one holds that against you.

[In Syria] the Baath and Hizbullah counter-attacks against the opposition in the past two months have yielded battlefield victories and the reassertion of Damascus over parts of the country that had been lost. Russian support appears to have increased in kind and quality, and Iran is playing the Shiite card.
If someone doesn’t intervene soon on the rebel side, Washington hawks realize, the war might soon be over and the pro-Iranian regime will survive (just as Algeria’s did).
Obama seems to be attempting to find a face-saving way of getting a little involved but not too much, by sending light weaponry...

Clinton compared what the US could do in Syria to Ronald Reagan’s effort against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s. But that covert operation of giving billions of dollars and high-tech weaponry to Afghan jihadis was a huge catastrophe, contributing to the creation and rise of al-Qaeda and setting the background for the emergence of the Taliban...
You never, ever want to encourage the rise of private militias and flood a country with high- powered weaponry.

In general Bill Clinton had few foreign policy successes. One of his great failures was yielding to the pressure of the hawks around the Project for a New American Century and bombing Iraq in 1998, in preparation for which he forced the UN weapons inspectors to withdraw. Had they remained on the ground, they could have continued to certify that Iraq had destroyed its weapons of mass destruction. The PNAC warmongers maneuvered Clinton into helping them blind US and world intelligence with regard to Iraq... Bill Clinton was a patsy for the hawks, and now he is setting up Obama to be another one.

The Project for the New American Century (PNAC) was an American think tank based in Washington, D.C. established in 1997 as a non-profit educational organization founded by William Kristol and Robert Kagan.

Calls for regime change in Iraq
Wikipedia info

The goal of regime change in Iraq remained the consistent position of PNAC throughout the 1997-2000 Iraq disarmament crisis.
Richard Perle, who later became a core member of PNAC, was involved in similar activities to those pursued by PNAC after its formal organization. For instance, in 1996 Perle composed a report that proposed regime changes in order to restructure power in the Middle East. The report was titled A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm and called for removing Saddam Hussein from power, as well as other ideas to bring change to the region. The report was delivered to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Two years later, in 1998, Perle and other core members of the PNAC - Paul Wolfowitz, R. James Woolsey, Elliot Abrams, and John Bolton - "were among the signatories of a letter to President Clinton calling for the removal of Hussein." Clinton did seek regime change in Iraq...

On September 20, 2001 (nine days after the September 11, 2001 attacks), the PNAC sent a letter to President George W. Bush, advocating "a determined effort to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq", or regime change:
...even if evidence does not link Iraq directly to the attack, any strategy aiming at the eradication of terrorism and its sponsors must include a determined effort to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq....
. From 2001 through 2002, the co-founders and other members of the PNAC published articles supporting the United States' invasion of Iraq. On its website, the PNAC promoted its point of view that leaving Saddam Hussein in power would be "surrender to terrorism."

Morsi says Egypt cuts all ties with Damascus,
calls for Syria no-fly zone
Russia Today, June 16, 2013

"We have decided to close down the Syrian embassy in Cairo," said Morsi during a conference of Sunni Muslim clerics in support of the Syrian uprising at Cairo Indoor Stadium, according to local newspaper Ahram online. "The Egyptian envoy in Damascus will also be withdrawn."
Addressing the massive crowd at the stadium, the Egyptian president said "the Egyptian people support the struggle of the Syrian people, materially and morally, and Egypt, its nation, leadership ... and army, will not abandon the Syrian people until it achieves its rights and dignity."
Morsi urged the international powers not to hesitate to enforce a no-fly zone over Syria. His supporters chanted: "From the free revolutionaries of Egypt: We will stamp on you, Bashar!"
The US has been giving consideration to the issue of setting up a no-fly zone across Syria and possibly along Jordan’s border... But Russian Foreign minister Sergey Lavrov has stressed that any attempt to establish the no-fly zone would be a violation of international law.

While calling for foreign interference into the Syrian conflict, Morsi has warned against any unrest at home as massive anti-government protests are planned to take place on June 30. "There is no place for the troublemakers [who threat] the nation's security and stability. We shall decisively stop them," he said as quoted by Ahram Online.

Support for the Lebanon-based terror group Hezbollah would also be withdrawn, Morsi said, marking a policy shift for Cairo, which backed the organization against Israel in the Second Lebanon War seven years ago.
“We supported Hezbollah during Lebanon war and today we stand against Hezbollah in its aggression on Syria,” said Morsi, adding that there will be no role for the current Syrian regime and the terror group in Syria’s future.
He said Cairo would coordinate aiding the rebels monetarily through Saudi Arabia and Turkey as well as other countries. He did not say what form the aid would take and whether it would include arms. (Times of Israel 16-6-2013)

Obama Isolated at G8 Summit
Posted on 06/16/2013 by Juan Cole

Obama’s recent decision to become more active in Syria, at least sending light weaponry to the rebels, will have a mixed reception, perhaps an explosively mixed one.
Russia, of course, is strongly backing the ruling Baath regime and has strenuously objected to Obama’s announcement. In essence, the two superpowers are back to a Cold War footing over Syria.
In the recent discussions at the European Union, Italy and Germany opposed lifting an arms embargo on Syria. That is, those two countries did not want Europeans sending arms to either side.
Japan is unlikely to join in sending weapons, given its pacifist constitution, but it is somewhat stepping up its humanitarian aid to the rebels and to Jordan and Lebanon....
So, fierce opposition from Vladimir Putin, and just plain opposition from Angela Merkel and Enrico Letta. Neutrality from Japan. And support for small arms exports to the rebels but little more from France. Likely the UK and Canada will support whatever Obama decides to do.

There is some thinking of expanding the G8 to include, e.g., China and Brazil among others. Note that both of these countries are dead set against Western intervention in Syria.
The US, with its hawkish ways, is increasingly isolated .

"There is no God but Allah, and Bashar is his enemy."
Thousands of Egypt Islamists rally for Syria jihad
Global Post 15-6-2013

"Devotion to Jihad for the sake of Allah,
and the desire to shed blood, to smash skulls
and to sever limbs, is undoubtedly
an honor for the believer."
Sheikh Areifi, 11-3-2011

Thousands of Islamists rallied in the Egyptian capital in support of calls by Sunni Muslim clerics for a holy war against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The demonstration took place outside a Cairo mosque where Saudi preacher Mohammed al-Oreifi called in a sermon for a "jihad in the cause of Allah in Syria." Oreifi urged worshippers to "unite against their enemy."
Demonstrators, most of them bearded and wearing the traditional white galabiya, shouted "there is no God but Allah, and Bashar is his enemy."
People waved not only the Egyptian flag but also the one adopted by the Syrian opposition.
On Thursday, influential Sunni clerics from several Arab states called for a holy war against the "sectarian" regime in Syria. "We must undertake jihad to help our brothers in Syria by sending them money and arms, and providing all aid to save the Syrian people from this sectarian regime," they said in a statement at the end of a gathering in Cairo.
They called the "flagrant aggression" of Iran and the Lebanese movement Hezbollah -- both Shiite -- and their "sectarian allies" in Syria "a declaration of war against Islam and Muslims."
Saudi Arabia's top cleric Abdulaziz al-Shaikh has urged governments to punish the "repulsive sectarian group" while Qatar-based Sunni cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi has called on Sunnis to join the rebels.

London’s mayor: ‘Don’t arm maniacs’
Zohra Bensemra, 17-6-2013

Arming the Syrian rebels would be “pressing weapons into the hands of maniacs and Al-Qaeda thugs,” London’s mayor has warned. His is the latest call in a wave of rhetoric urging the UK prime minister not to provide the Syrian rebels with weapons.
Writing for British publication The Telegraph, Boris Johnson wrote that the UK must not use Syria as “an arena for muscle flexing.” “We can’t use Syria as an arena for geopolitical point-scoring or muscle-flexing, and we won’t get a ceasefire by pressing weapons into the hands of maniacs,” wrote Johnson. “This is the moment for a total ceasefire, an end to the madness,” Johnson writes. “It is time for the US, Russia, the EU, Turkey, Iran, Saudi and all the players to convene an intergovernmental conference to try to halt the carnage."

The New Sunni-Shia War
By Robert Fisk, June 16, 2013

"Information Clearing House - "The Independent": Washington’s decision to arm Syria’s Sunni Muslim rebels has plunged America into a great Sunni-Shia conflict...
All of America’s ‘friends’ in the region are Sunni Muslims and all of its enemies are Shiites. Breaking all President Barack Obama’s rules of disengagement, the US is now fully engaged on the side of armed groups which include the most extreme Sunni Islamist movements in the Middle East....
In years to come, historians will ask how America – after its defeat in Iraq and its humiliating withdrawal from Afghanistan scheduled for 2014 – could have so blithely aligned itself with one side in a titanic Islamic struggle...

America’s alliance now includes the wealthiest states of the Arab Gulf, the vast Sunni territories between Egypt and Morocco, as well as Turkey and the fragile British-created monarchy in Jordan. ...
Its enemies include the Lebanese Hizballah, the Alawite Shiite regime in Damascus and, of course, Iran. And Iraq, a largely Shiite nation which America ‘liberated’ from Saddam Hussein’s Sunni minority [..], has – against all US predictions – itself now largely fallen under Tehran’s influence and power.

Washington’s excuse for its new Middle East adventure – that it must arm Assad’s enemies because the Damascus regime has used sarin gas against them – convinces no-one in the Middle East. Final proof of the use of gas by either side in Syria remains almost as nebulous as President George W. Bush’s claim that Saddam’s Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction.
For the real reason why America has thrown its military power behind Syria’s Sunni rebels is because those same rebels are now losing their war against Assad. ... Arab dictators are supposed to be deposed – unless they are the friendly kings or emirs of the Gulf...

If the Arab world has itself been overwhelmed by the two years of revolutions, none will have suffered from the Syrian war in the long term more than the Palestinians. The land they wish to call their future state has been so populated with Jewish Israeli colonists that it can no longer be either secure or ‘viable’.
‘Peace’ envoy Tony Blair’s attempts to create such a state have been laughable. ... The Palestinian tragedy continues.

Bennett: Idea of Palestinian state is pointless
Itamar Fleishman, YetNews 17-6-2013

Economy Minister and chairman of the Habayit Hayehudi Party Naftali Bennett proclaimed Monday that the two-state solution had reached a dead end. "Never has so much time been invested in something so pointless," he said. "We need to build, build, build...."
Speaking at a Yesha Council meeting in Jerusalem, Bennett said, "There has never been a Palestinian state here. We need to change our conception and say we're here because it's our home. We need to start thinking about how we conduct ourselves from now on, with that concept behind us."
The minister also commented on statements made by Yesh Atid MK Ofer Shelah who harshly slammed Israel's policy in the West Bank last week.
Shelah said the West Bank settlements pose an obstacle to a peace agreement. "The occupation corrupts Israeli society, the IDF , Israeli justice, Israeli media, Israeli psyche and Israeli mode of speech," he claimed." ...
Bennett said in response, "Those who dare say that the occupation corrupts and talk about occupation all day, what occupation are they talking about? How can you be an occupier in your own home? This is our home."

The First Sunni-Shia War 1980-1988
Wikipedia Info

Saddam Hussein donated large sums to various institutions in his campaign to curry favour with the United States. He was made an honorary citizen of Detroit in 1980. (Wikipedia)

Tensions between Iran and Iraq were fueled by Iran's Islamic revolution and its appearance of being a Pan-Islamic force, in contrast to Iraq's Arab nationalism.
Despite Iraq's goals of regaining the Shatt al-Arab, the Iraqi government seemed to initially welcome Iran's Revolution, which overthrew Iran's Shah, who was seen as a common enemy. It is difficult to pinpoint when tensions began to build, but there were some cross border skirmishes, including when Iraqi aircraft bombed an Iranian village that anti-Iraqi Kurds allegedly hid in on June 1979. After this incident, the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini called on Iraqis to overthrow the Ba'ath government, and it was received with considerable anger in Baghdad.
On 17 July 1979, despite Khomeini's call, Saddam gave a speech praising the Iranian Revolution and called for an Iraqi-Iranian friendship based on non-interference in each other's internal affairs. When Khomeini rejected Saddam's overture by calling for Islamic revolution in Iraq, Saddam was alarmed. ...
In 1979–1980, anti-Ba'ath riots arose in the Iraq's Shia areas by groups who were workings toward an Islamic revolution in their country. Saddam and his deputies believed that the riots had been inspired by the Iranian Revolution and instigated by Iran's government. ...
In April 1980, Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Baqir al-Sadr and his sister Amina Haydar (better known as Bint al-Huda) were hanged as part of a crackdown to restore Saddam's control. The execution of Iraq's most senior Ayatollah caused outrage throughout the Islamic world, especially among Shias.
Iraq soon after expropriated the properties of 70,000 civilians believed to be of Iranian origin and expelled them from its territory. Many, if not most, of those expelled were in fact Arabic-speaking Iraqi Shias who had little to no family ties with Iran...
In April 1980, Shia militants assassinated 20 Ba'ath officials, and Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz was almost assassinated on 1 April; Aziz survived, but 11 students were killed in the attack. Three days later, the funeral procession being held to bury the students was bombed. Iraqi Information Minister Latif Nusseif al-Jasim also barely survived assassination by Shia militants.
The Shias' repeated calls for the overthrow of the Ba'ath party and the support they allegedly received from Iran's new government led Saddam to increasingly perceive Iran as a threat that, if ignored, might one day overthrow him; he thus used the attacks as pretext for attacking Iran..

Bashar al-Assad: "It's about harmony"
"For democracy to thrive, it needs to become a way of life"
Interview with the German 'Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung'
Breaking News, 17-6-2013

Interviewer: Mr President, in your opinion what will the region look like in the future?

President Assad: [...] Our biggest and most important challenge lies in facing extremism.
It has become extremely clear that there has been a shift in the societies of our region away from moderation, especially religious moderation.
The question is: can we restore these societies to their natural order? Can our diverse societies still coexist together as one natural whole?
On this point allow me to clarify certain terms. The words tolerance and coexistence are often used to define our societies. However, the more precise and appropriate definition, of how our societies used to be - and how they should be, is harmonious.
Contrary to perception, the issue is neither about tolerance - since there will come a day when you are not tolerant, nor is the issue about coexistence - since you co-exist with your adversaries, but rather it is about harmony. What used to characterize us in the region was our harmony. You cannot say that your hand will coexist with or tolerate your foot because one compliments the other and both are a part of a harmonious whole.

Another challenge is political reform and the question of which political system would keep our society coherent: be it presidential, semi-presidential or parliamentary, as well as deciding the most appropriate legislation to govern political parties. In Germany, for example, you have the Christian Democratic Party. In Syria we could not have religious parties, neither Christian nor Muslim, because for us religion is for preaching and not for political practice. There are many other details, but the essence is in accepting others. If we cannot accept each other we cannot be democratic, even with the best constitution or the best legislations.

Interviewer: Mr President, where do you see secularism in the midst of the rising Islamic current in the region?

President Assad: This is a very important question; many in the region do not understand this relationship. The Middle East is a hub of different ideologies. Arab society is primarily based on two pillars: Pan-Arabism and Islam. Other ideologies do exist, such as communism, liberalism, Syrian nationalism, but these are not nearly as popular.
Many people understand secularism as synonymous with communism in the past, in that it is against religion. In fact it is the complete opposite; for us in Syria secularism is about the freedom of confession including Christianity, Islam and Judaism, and the multiple diverse sects within these religions.
Secularism is crucial to our national unity and sense of belonging. Therefore we have no choice but to strengthen secularism because religion is already strong in our region, and I stress here that this is very healthy.

What is not healthy is extremism because it ultimately leads to terrorism; not every extremist is a terrorist, but every terrorist is definitely an extremist.
So in response to your question, we are a secular state that essentially treats its citizens equally, irrespective of religion, sect or ethnicity. All our citizens enjoy equal opportunities regardless of religious belief.

Interviewer: Mr President, how do you view the two-and-a-half years since the so-called ‘Arab Spring?’

This is a misconception. Spring does not include bloodshed, killing, extremism, destroying schools or preventing children from going to their schools, or preventing women from choosing what to wear and what is appropriate for them. Spring is the most beautiful season whilst we are going through the direst circumstances; it is definitely not Spring. Is Spring compatible with what is happening in Syria - the killing, the slaughtering, the beheading, the cannibalism, I leave it to you to decide.

Interviewer: What are the issues that the so-called “Arab Spring” is supposed to resolve?

President Assad: The solution doesn't lie in the ‘Spring’ or in anything else, the solution lies in us. We are the ones who should provide the solutions, by being proactive instead of reactive. When we address our problems proactively we ensure that we get the right solutions. Solutions imposed reactively by the ‘Spring’ will only lead to deformed results.

Interviewer: You criticise countries including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and Britain for their interference in the Syria crisis, isn’t it true that Russia and Iran are also involved?

President Assad: There is a significant difference between the co-cooperation of states as opposed to the destabilisation of a certain country and interference in its internal affairs.
Cooperation between countries is conceived on the concept of mutual will, in a way that preserves their sovereignty, independence, stability and self-determination.
Our relationship with Russia, Iran and other countries that support Syria are cooperative relations certified under international law.
The countries you mentioned, have adopted policies that meddle in Syria’s internal affairs, which is a flagrant violation of international law and our national sovereignty.

Interviewer: In this quagmire, why do Britain and France delegate leadership to Saudi Arabia and Qatar? What do they hope to achieve?

President Assad: I also cannot answer on behalf of Britain or France, but I can give you the general impression here. I believe that France and Britain have an issue with the ‘annoying’ Syrian role in the region – as they see it. These countries, like the United States, are looking for puppets and dummies to do their bidding and serve their interests without question. We have consistently rejected this; we will always be independent and free. ...
What happened in Syria was an opportunity for all these countries to get rid of Syria – this insubordinate state, and replace the president with a “yes man.”

Interviewer: Your Excellency has stated that if European countries were to send weapons to Syria, they would effectively be arming terrorists. Do you consider all armed militants as terrorists?

President Assad: Any individual or group excluding the army and police who carries arms, kills people, threatens and intimidates public safety are by definition terrorists, this is a norm in every country.
Regardless of their background, be it extremists, criminals or convicted felons, those who are carrying weapons in Syria are essentially committing these acts. Therefore, they are terrorists. ...

Interviewer: Mr President, Britain and France claim to have clear evidence that chemical weapons have been used. The White House has stated that it possess information to ascertain this claim, which consequently led to the death of 100 to 150 people in one year, in addition to that you have denied the UN investigators access to areas in Syria except for Aleppo. How do you explain the situation?

President Assad: Let’s begin with the statement from the White House regarding the 150 casualties. Militarily speaking, it is a well-understood notion that during wars, conventional weapons can cause these number of deaths, or even higher, in a single day, not in a year. Weapons of mass destruction generally kill thousands of people at one given time; this high death toll is a primary reason for its use. It is counterintuitive to use chemical weapons to create a death toll that you could potentially reach by using conventional weapons. ...

The allegations are ludicrous. The terrorist groups used chemical weapons in Aleppo; subsequently we sent an official letter to the United Nations requesting a formal investigation into the incident. Britain and France blocked this investigation because it would have proven the chemical attacks were carried out by terrorist groups and hence provided conclusive evidence that they (Britain and France) were lying. ...
All the claims relating to the use of chemical weapons is an extension of the continuous American and Western fabrication of the actual situation in Syria. Its sole aim is to justify their policies to their public opinion and use the claim as a pretext for more military intervention and bloodshed in Syria....

Interviewer: Mr President, it is reported that the Syrian Army has bombarded certain areas. Was there no other option?

President Assad: We are pursuing terrorists who repeatedly infiltrate populated areas. If we take Al-Qseir as an example, there was a western media frenzy claiming that there were 50,000 civilians, which is more than the town’s original population. In fact, when the terrorists entered the area, the inhabitants consequently fled; when we entered we did not find civilians. Usually wherever the terrorists infiltrate, civilians flee and battles occur afterwards.
The evidence clearly shows that most of the casualties in Syria are from the armed forces. Civilians mostly die in suicide bombings. They also die when terrorists enter an area, proceed to carry out executions and use them as human shields. The rest of the causalities are either foreign or Syrian terrorists.

Interviewer: After the momentum you have achieved in Al-Qseir, do you feel it is now time to extend a hand to the opposition and consider reconciliation?

President Assad: From day one we have extended a hand to all those who believe in dialogue; this position has not changed.

Interviewer: How would you define the legitimate political opposition?

President Assad: Essentially, any opposition party that does not support terrorism, does not carry weapons, and has a clear political agenda. ...
We are dealing with many groups who call themselves opposition, their success will be determined by two important questions: what is their popular base? And what is their political manifesto?

Interviewer: What are your set criteria for dialogue between you and the opposition, could this include foreign-based opposition?

President Assad: As far was we are concerned, genuine Syrian opposition means representing the Syrian people - not foreign countries, it means being based in Syria and sharing the burdens and concerns of the Syrian people. Such an opposition would inevitably be part of any political process.

Interviewer: What are your expectations from the Geneva conference? Will it be followed by progress or a continued stalemate?

President Assad: The logical question is: what is the relationship between the Geneva conference and terrorism on the ground? Simply, if the Geneva conference is successful – as is our hope, in preventing the smuggling of weapons and terrorists - there are over 29 different nationalities documented to be in Syria, then this would be a catalyst for resolving the Syrian crisis.
However if the smuggling of weapons and terrorists continues, there is no value for any political solution. We hope that the Geneva conference will make this its starting point...

Interviewer: Could Geneva II propose a government from different political entities?

President Assad: This is what we have suggested in our political initiative. We proposed the formation of an extended government from diverse political entities that would prepare for parliamentary elections; the winners of these elections would have a role in the future. This is an approach that we have been open to from the beginning.

Interviewer: Next year there will be presidential elections, how do you see these elections playing out?

President Assad: They will follow the new constitution, in other words multi-candidate elections. It will be a new experience, which we cannot predict at this point.

Interviewer: Mr President, what is your vision for Syria in the next five years?

President Assad: I reiterate that our biggest challenge is extremism. If we can fight it, with better education, new ideas and culture, then we can move towards a healthy democratic state. Democracy, as we see it in Syria, is not an objective in itself, but rather a means to an end - to stability and to prosperity. Legislations and constitutions are also only tools, necessary tools to develop and advance societies. However, for democracy to thrive, it needs to become a way of life - a part of our culture, and this cannot happen when so many social taboos are imposed by extremist ideologies.

The uprising against Brother Erdogan
by Thierry Meyssan, Voltaire Network 10 June 2013

For Thierry Meyssan, the Turkish people are not protesting against Recip Tayyeb Erdogan’s autocratic style, but against his policies; in other words, against the Muslim Brotherhood, of which he is the mentor. It is a revolution that calls the "Arab Spring" into question.

It is important to remember that the label "Arab Spring" given by the West is a deception to make people believe that the Tunisian and Egyptian governments were overthrown by a mass movement.
While there was a popular revolution in Tunisia, its goal was not to change the regime, but to achieve economic and social changes. It was the United States, not the street, that ordered Zinedine el Abidine Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak to step down. Then it was NATO that toppled and lynched Muammar al-Gaddafi. And it is again NATO and the GCC that have fueled the attack against Syria.

Across North Africa —with the exception of Algeria— the Muslim Brotherhood have been placed in power by Hillary Clinton. Everywhere, Turkish communications advisors are on board, courtesy of the Erdogan government.
Everywhere, "democracy" was a facade which allowed the Brothers to Islamize firms in exchange for embracing the pseudo-liberal capitalism of the United States.
The term "Islamize" reflects the rhetoric employed by the Brothers, not reality. The Brotherhood intends to control the privacy of individuals based on principles which are outside the scope of the Quran. It calls into question the role of women in society and imposes an austere lifestyle without alcohol or cigarettes, and without least for others.

The rise to power of the Muslim Brotherhood in North Africa went to the Erdogan government’s head. By brandishing his Ottoman imperial ambition, he disconcerted the Arab public to begin with, and then turned the majority of his people against him. ...
By showing its true nature, the Erdogan government has cut itself off from the population. Only a minority of Sunnis can identify with the backward and hypocritical programme of the Brothers.

Brotherhood leaders slam Turkey protestors
Egypt Independent 04/06/2013

Several Muslim Brotherhood leaders accused Turkish protesters of receiving foreign funds from entities which they claim "want to make the highly successful Islamic project fail".
They said the crisis in Turkey is not really about the development of Taksim Square. The whole issue is part of the war on Islam and an attempt to undermine efforts by Turkey’s Justice and Development Party to complete the Islamic renaissance it has achieved.
Hussein Ibrahim, secretary general of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), said that thrusting the [Muslim] Brotherhood into the Turkish incidents demonstrates that there are people who wish to manipulate internal issues to serve international interests and projects in order to fight everything Islamic...
Mourad Aly, the FJP's media adviser, said "Some parties intentionally want to make its seem that what is going on in Turkey is a revolution", adding that those assessments "are exaggerated and have nothing to do with what is happening on the ground."
On Twitter, Essam el-Erian took issue with The Economist for portraying Erdogan as a sultan, and said Arab media that ''detest the revolution'' have joined Western media in their anti-Erdogan campaign. ''As an Islamic nation we will triumph over the vultures of defeat'', el-Erian tweeted. (ANSAmed).

"All say they want is the Islamic Sharia"

"No one in Egypt—not a Copt, a liberal, a leftist, no one—dares say they are against Islam and the application of Sharia: all say they want is the Islamic Sharia [applied]. And when referendum time comes, whoever says 'we do not want Sharia' will expose their hidden intentions." (Essam el-Erian, Vice President of the "Freedom and Justice" party, 15-11-2011)

Secular opposition in the Arab Spring countries
remains weak and poorly organized

Analysts opine that the Turkish protests give at least moral support to secularist forces.
"There are attempts to export what's happening in Turkey to Tunisia," political analyst Sami Brahem told AFP. "It may not inspire a major protest movement, but [the situation in Turkey] can be a moral support to secularists."
Basbous, the director of the Paris-based Observatory of Arab countries, argues that the Turkish protests are serving to remind liberals and secularists in the Arab world "that they were the motor of change" during the 2011 uprisings.
He, however, opines that that will not necessarily translate into change on the ground because the secular opposition in the Arab Spring countries remains weak and poorly organized... (theeasternpost)

Islamists Press Blasphemy Cases in a New Egypt
New York Times, June 18, 2013

DEIR EL GABRAWI, Egypt — Egypt’s prosecutors have been flooded with blasphemy complaints since 2011 as Islamists exercising their new societal clout have pushed for prosecutions and courts have handed down steep fines and prison terms for insulting religion. ...
Blasphemy cases were once rare in Egypt, and their frequency has increased sharply since the revolution. More than two dozen cases have gone to trial, and nearly all defendants have been found guilty. At least 13 have received prison sentences. ...
The increase in blasphemy lawsuits reflects how profoundly the old order has been upset since President Hosni Mubarak was ousted. Under Mr. Mubarak, the security services often dealt with Islamists and other dissidents outside of the courts. Blasphemy prosecutions were rare and usually aimed at prominent intellectuals.
Mr. Mubarak’s overthrow in 2011 removed those constraints and allowed for deeply conservative currents in Egyptian society to assert themselves in public life.

Grand Sheikh Ahmed El-Tayyeb warned against
'false' religious rulings by 'incompetent' sheikhs
Ahram Online, 19 Jun 2013

Al-Azhar's Grand Imam Ahmed El-Tayyeb warned members of different Islamist groups against accusing their opponents of blasphemy... In a statement, El-Tayyeb said that Al-Azhar, Egypt's core Islamic institution, calls for agreement between different factions and warns against violence and attacking others' religious beliefs. ...
El-Tayyeb criticised "false" religious fatwas by "incompetent" sheikhs who issue statements saying that those who oppose the ruler are "hypocrites and infidels" in the eyes of Islam.
The statement came following El-Tayyeb's meeting with President Morsi on Tuesday, in a joint visit with Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros II to discuss the current political situation in Egypt.
The imam said that "peaceful opposition against [rulers] is accepted according to sharia… and has nothing to do with belief or lack thereof," adding that violence and militant actions are a "great sin" but not an act of "disbelief [kofr]."

Al-Azhar: Statement about the future of Egypt
State Information Service

The role played by Al-Azhar is based on its great and wide experience and its scientific and cultural history which can be summarized as the following:

- 1. Theological aspect focusing on reviving the science of religion according to the Sunna and Gamaa principles, which integrate between those who refer to the reason and those who refer to the Quran and tradition and which reveal the required rules of interpreting religious texts.
- 2. Historical aspect of helping in leading the national movement toward freedom and independence.
- 3. Cultural aspect to revive various natural science, literature and arts including their several fields.
- 4. Scientific aspect helping in leading and guiding the Egyptians leaders and the whole Egyptian society.
- 5. Comprehensive aspect which is a mixture between science, renaissance and culture in the Arab and the Islamic worlds.

'Arab Idol' down to final 3 contestants
By Nohad Topalian in Beirut, 18-6-2013


Mohammad Assaf and Farah Youssef, June 15, 2013

A phenomenon is sweeping the Middle East. Arabs young and old are voting in record numbers—and this time it's not for the Muslim Brotherhood ...
Armed with nothing but their cellphones, they have set aside their differences and united to watch and vote for the next Arab Idol.
Just three contestants remain in the running for the title of "The Most Beloved Singer in the Arab World". They are Farah Yusuf of Syria, Ahmad Jamal of Egypt, and Palestinian contestant Mohammed Assaf.

Mohammad Assaf and Farah Youssef performed a Mashup of Wael Kfoury’s “ Behen Lil Naghme El Watar” and Nancy Ajram’s ” Enta Eh ” in Saturday’s ‘ Arab Idol’ results show On June 15.

Arab Idol: "Something to smile about"
By Mohammed Jamjoom, CNN 18-6-2013

"Arab Idol" is much more than just a popular singing competition.
Now in its second season, the Middle Eastern version of "American Idol" is the feel-good story of the year. At a time when the Arab world is so concerned about conflicts growing and sectarianism increasing, the show has done the near impossible: It's given the troubled region something to smile about.

"You should vote for, only for music," a grinning and relaxed Ahmad Jamal says during rehearsal. "Not for nationality, not for religion, not for political issues," adds the 25-year-old Egyptian contestant. "You just vote for music and the one you love, the one you want to be a star."

It's a sentiment echoed by other contestants when explaining the popularity of the show and how lucky they feel to be a part of it. Take Farah Youssef, for example. The 25-year-old almost didn't make it out of Syria. Her car was caught in the middle of a shootout as she left Damascus to audition in Beirut. Watching her practice before the show, you'd never guess the amount of stress she's under. Frankly, she seems quite happy while hitting the high notes.
As it turns out, the pressure of performing is nothing compared with how overcome she becomes when she thinks and talks about the civil war back home. "I see all that stuff happening in my country," she says. "It's kind of devastating."
Her words trail off as she is overcome with emotion. "I'm sorry," she says as she starts to cry. "The people, they have no future. I thank my God that I'm here, I'm building myself up, I'm trying to be good. I'm trying to make people love one another again." Suddenly, as if remembering the healing power of music, she declares, "And actually I feel like I'm doing a good job."

Clearly the show's millions of loyal viewers believe so too, as Youssef has advanced to "Arab Idol's" finale, which airs this weekend. But she has stiff competition from fan favorite Mohamad Assaf, also a finalist -- one who's become a heartthrob and a hero. Making the difficult journey out of Gaza, the 23-year-old Palestinian barely made it to the tryouts in Cairo.
Nicknamed "The Rocket," Assaf's on a fast track to stardom, but the patriotic Palestinian also wants to inspire his people. "Anybody who has hope for a better future, and who has dreams and ambitions to make his dreams a reality, will make it," he says confidently.

President Mahmoud Abbas has spoken to Assaf by phone and instructed Palestinian embassies abroad to urge expatriates to vote for him, calling the singer "the pride of the Palestinian and Arab nation" (Reuters 20-6-2013).

Palestinian Mohammad Assaf
‘Arab Idol’ 2013 Winner

After a long journey of determination, hard work and persistence Palestinian Mohammad Assaf fulfilled his long awaited dream and was crowned winner of the second season of “Arab Idol” on June 22, 2013.
Assaf dedicated his victory to Palestine and thanked his mother, Arab Idol judges and all his fans who have supported him and voted for him through his journey in “Arab Idol”.

Pan-Arab singing contest
yourmiddleeast, 23-6-2013

Jubilant Palestinians took to the streets in their thousands after singer Mohammed Assaf won a pan-Arab singing contest that has had millions of viewers fixed to their TV screens since March.
Saturday's televised victory was the first such success for a Palestinian entertainer and sparked an unprecedented response in the occupied territories. Assaf, winner of the Arab Idol contest in Beirut, dedicated the win to "the Palestinian people, who have been suffering for more than 60 years from (Israeli) occupation".
Immediately after his win, Assaf was named Youth Ambassador for UNRWA, the UN's agency for Palestinian refugees and named Palestinian goodwill ambassador by president Mahmud Abbas. Spontaneous celebrations broke out in Gaza, Assaf's home, and in the West Bank, with tens of thousands of people taking to the streets. Huge posters of the Gazan singer have festooned the streets, the singer becoming a source of pride for Palestinians everywhere in recent months.
In the West Bank town of Ramallah the celebrations after the final results were announced spread to the tomb of former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
"The mood is undescribable. Everyone is celebrating. Thank you, Mohammed Assaf, for bringing joy to our hearts. We haven't felt this joy in a long time," Gaza resident Mohammad Dahman told AFP via the Internet.

The Islamist Hamas movement, which has controlled Gaza since 2007, disapproves of what it considers un-Islamic shows, such as Arab Idol, but has not officially clamped down on support for Arab Idol or Assaf. Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas phoned Assaf during the contest to offer him encouragement, the official Wafa agency said.

"Son of all the Arab world"

Mohammed Assaf's talents were recognized immediately by the judges as he was compared to one of the 4 greats of Arabic music, Abdel Halim Hafez, during his first audition for Arab Idol. Throughout the competition Assaf went on to capture hearts across the Arab world and beyond, demonstrating a mastery of technique that led one of the judges to assert Mohammed was not only a Palestinian artist but a "son of all the Arab world."
It is likely Mohammed Assaf will go on to be recognized as the first newly discovered great Arabic singer of 21st century. The cultural impact of his artistic influence and meteoric rise to fame and what this means to Palestine and the Arab world is immeasurable. (Monoweiss 22-6-2013)

The Media are Loyal to the System, not to their Profession
By Margaret Kimberley, Global Research, June 21, 2013

The existence of a compliant media plays a major role in allowing American presidents to create so much violence and chaos around the globe. Far from being a check on officialdom, the press are part and parcel of the machine which crushes so many lives in this country and abroad.
Long gone are the days of the Pentagon Papers, when media outlets competed with one another to break stories which officialdom wanted to keep hidden. Now the press lords work hand in hand with politicians to make certain that they have carte blanche whenever they want it.

President Obama has decided to send weapons to the coalition represented by jihadists, Gulf monarchists and regime opponents working to overthrow Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad.
The administration again makes the same claims which always explain away American aggression. A foreign head of state is accused of terrorizing his citizens, spreading said terror to other lands and bringing down modern civilization. We are then told that the foreign leader must be deposed from power for the sake of humanity. The country may be Libya or now Syria but the explanation is the same and so is the media modus operandi.
The press merely repeat what the president says and call it journalism. The public are left in the dark and in the absence of real reporting are forced to read tea leaves to figure out what is really happening. ....

The Obama administration, and any other presidential administration, ought to be afraid to tell lies to the public. They should fear that their claims will be thoroughly examined and all facts will be exposed. But like his predecessor George W. Bush, Obama has no reason to feel any such discomfort.
A quick perusal of the major media will show that the very premise of American intervention in Syria or anywhere else is accepted without question. ... The average American believes that the intervention is humanitarian in nature because the government and the corporate media have told them so. ...
“Assad must go” is the mantra but no one on Meet the Press, the Newshour, MSNBC or the New York Times asks why this is so and why an American president has any right to decide the fate of millions of people....

The media are loyal to the system, not to their profession, their readers, or their listeners. ... We the people, even those of us who want to be aware of current events, learn nothing except politicians’ talking points. ...
[The media] have little interest in giving us easily provable facts when there is favor in need of currying. History will judge not only our political leaders harshly, but every institution which aided and abetted them.

Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City. Her 'Freedom Rider column' appears weekly in BAR. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as at

The Muslim Brotherhood has failed in Egypt
"A group mentality, not a political authority"
by: Tariq Alhomayed, 24 Jun, 2013

"God is our objective; the Quran is our constitution, the Prophet is our leader; Jihad is our way; and death for the sake of God is the highest of our aspirations.” Muslim Brotherhood

Regardless of the results of the forthcoming 30 June demonstrations in Egypt, and whether the opposition succeeds in toppling the president or not, reality says the Muslim Brotherhood’s project in Egypt has failed, and that the Brotherhood will suffer from this failure for many years, in Egypt and the region. When former President Mubarak resigned, the Brotherhood gave endless promises for democracy, but their promises were empty.
The way the Brotherhood has dealt with every crisis in Egypt was tinged with attempts to insult the intelligence of others and exclude them, and by applying the principle of divide and rule, which divided everything in the country.

The Muslim Brotherhood tried to exclude the military, and the time for that was suitable for that, because both revolutionaries and opposition agreed. Then the exclusion of the military became a plan to exclude all; from Azhar and the judiciary, to the media, even the opposition itself; not to mention trying to monopolize the constitution and try to pass it hurriedly, with the exclusion of others. All this took place during a frightening economic downturn which threatened the Egyptian state as a whole.
One must ask the question: Where are the sensible men of the Brotherhood? Does the Brotherhood want to spill blood in Egypt to be like Assad and Gaddafi? Or do they want to lead Egypt a state to ruin? Did the alleged Brotherhood democracy only mean reaching power, followed by the Khomeini exclusionary approach, [..] and dress that approach with an Islamic cover to guarantee staying in power?

In summary, what history is going to remember is that the failure of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt was caused by the Muslim Brotherhood themselves, not their enemies, internally and externally, especially when the Brotherhood decided to rule Egypt with a group mentality, and governed it like an opposition, not a political authority, which applies the principle of good governance, brings together not divides

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

Dr. Ali Gomaa : "Al-Azhar does not pay attention to voices
that raise destructive slogans and views"
Asharq Al-Awsat, 23-2-013

Q: Egypt is witnessing a state of extreme political division and difficulty. In your view, how can we overcome this?

A: This can be achieved by building consensus and moving away from division. When the Egyptians came to an agreement during the January 25 revolution, moving away from personal and partisan differences and division, they were able to topple a regime of corruption, injustice, and oppression.

Q: How would you characterize this divisive political scene precisely?

A: I can see that discord, strife, and partisan and self-interests are ruling the Egyptian scene, while national interests are absent. This is the malady, as for the cure this is unity and agreement. If we forget this, then society will be weakened and doomed but if we keep hold to this then our society will be strengthened. Everybody knows the importance of unity and we must put aside our differences, particularly now.

Q: What advice would you offer?

A: My advice is to protect unity, which is one of the most important duties at this time, until Egypt is able to move past this difficult period. The principle of agreement and reconciliation must serve as our barometer to measure what is happening in our country. We must also pay attention to development and confront our major problems.

Q: In your view, to what extent does Islam guarantee freedom of opinion? How do you view the protests and sit-ins taking place across the country?

A: Demonstrations and sit-ins can be seen in most countries and they are human rights on the condition that they do not harm others or disrupt their interests. ... Everybody has the right peacefully express themselves in a legitimate manner; this is something that nobody can deny.

Q: Al-Azhar is set to establish a satellite television channel with some claiming that you may be placed in charge of this. What is your view?

A: The Al-Azhar channel is part of an attempt to confront the extremist religious satellite channels in their own backyard, not to mention the chaos and confusion that these channels spread by misleading people with false fatwas that including judging others as infidels. Our channel’s objective will be to promote a moderate approach and initiate rapprochement between the difference sects, eliminating the chaotic fatwas (issued by religious satellite television channels).

Q: Most satellite channels are seeking to achieve their own interests and objectives; do you agree that securing personal gain seems to be the driving force behind the media these days?

A: There are media schools that are unfortunately pursuing the path of incitement, not enlightenment, and we completely reject this kind of media. I say to such figures that their religious, cultural and civilizational duty is to create, not destroy.
They must illuminate this media practice of incitement. They must attract people without resorting to lies, deceptions, and unsubstantiated rumors. ... Everybody must abide by honesty because this is what Islam has called us to. I previously called for a media honor code that will ensure that the elite and intellectuals stay away from trading baseless accusations, leaving the scene open for development and advancement.

Q: Some people are of the view that certain parties are attempting to undermine Al-Azhar and its symbols and prevent it from carrying out its role in terms of addressing the country’s major issues. Do you agree?

A: Nobody can deny Al-Azhar’s national role.... Over its long history and until today, Al-Azhar scholars play an active role in promoting tolerant and moderate Islam and in defending Egypt’s Islamic identity. ... Al-Azhar does not pay attention to voices that raise destructive slogans and views. Al-Azhar is followed the correct path and will not be turned away by these voices that are seeking to undermine us.

Q: It is easy for anybody to obtain a fatwa now. Some people believe that there should be a law licensing fatwa-issuance, particularly in the media. Do you agree?

A: Islamic scholars are very concerned with the fatwa-issuing process and have given this a high-profile due to its importance. The Prophet, peace be upon him, held this position during his lifetime, and after him it was held by the Prophet’s Companions, and then the scholars in general.
Despite this, the religious arena today is in a state of chaos in terms of fatwa-issuance and religious discourse, due to the presence of non-specialists issuing fatwas, particularly via satellite television. This has led to a state of chaos and suspicion over religious issues.

Ali Gomaa was the eighteenth Grand Mufti of Egypt. "A highly promoted champion of moderate Islam," gender equality, and an "object of hatred among Islamists" according to The New Yorker.

The Syrian War comes to Lebanon
Posted on 06/24/2013 by Juan Cole

The Syrian civil war spilled over onto Lebanon dramatically on Sunday and again on Monday morning when violent clashes broke out between the Salafi militia of Sheikh Ahmad Asir in Sidon and the Lebanese army.... The army maintains that the Salafis attacked a military checkpoint in the city.
Asir accuses the Lebanese army and the Lebanese political establishment of being in Shiite Iran’s back pocket. ... He castigates Hizbullah leader Hasan Nasrallah as an idolator... He backs the rebels in Syria... When Nasrallah sent Hizbullah fighters to al-Qusayr in Syria, Asir sent Salafi fighters from Lebanon to oppose them on the rebel side.

Asharq Al-Awsat: The army said Asir supporters opened fire on a checkpoint in Abra, near Sidon, without provocation, killing a number of soldiers.
The army issued a statement after the attack that said: “The army has tried for many months to distance Lebanon from the events in Syria, and rejected repeated political demands to curb Al-Asir’s group in Sidon, in eagerness to avoid sedition, and to allow all political parties to operate freely, under the umbrella of the law.”
Asir released a video on YouTube calling on Sunni members of the Lebanese army to defect and join his forces, who he said were under attack from a “sectarian” army.
President Michel Suleiman said that he had given the army “full authority to hit the aggressors and bring the perpetrators to justice.” He also called a ministerial security meeting in Ba’abda on Monday. (24-6-2013)

Lebanon’s Sheikhs
By Garrett Nada, May 10, 2013

Salafis are shaking up the fragile political balance among Muslims in Lebanon. The ultraconservative Sunnis —whose religious and social models come from the 7th century— are now stealing the limelight from Sunni and Shiite movements that have dominated politics since Lebanon gained independence in 1943.
The Salafi movement was launched in the 1940s by Sheikh Salem al Shahhal, who reportedly visited Saudi Arabia multiple times and was inspired by the Wahhabi version of Islam.
Lebanon’s Salafis remained marginal figures until 2011, when Salafis emerged as major players across the region. .... The Syrian uprising that erupted in March 2011 echoed the same deepening sectarian issues in Lebanon. The uprising was led largely by Sunnis, including Salafis or Salafi sympathizers. ...
With passions inflamed both at home and regionally, Lebanon’s Salafis began holdings rallies to show support for their brethren in Syria and challenge Hezbollah at home. Two firebrand clerics even reportedly began sending fighters to defend fellow Salafis in Syria. The sheikhs have claimed to oppose violence. But their rhetoric has nonetheless inflamed communal tensions. ...
Lebanon’s Salafis are far less organized or effective than Egypt’s Salafis. They are also deeply divided. Each sheikh has his own local following. The largest group is based in the northern city of Tripoli, Lebanon’s second largest city. Others major pockets are in Beirut or the southern coastal city of Sidon. The Salafi sheikhs also differ over tactics. Most condemn Hezbollah and the Assad regime, but not all favor sending fighters to Syria.

Born in 1968, Ahmad Assir is Lebanon’s most controversial sheikh. Supporters call him the “Sunni Lion” for his strong stance against Hezbollah, the Assad regime and Iran. In April 2013, the sheikh reportedly began sending young men to defend Sunnis in Syria against Hezbollah and Assad’s forces. “Bashar will be killed, hopefully” and “Iran will fall,” he told The Independent in July 2012.
Assir began preaching full-time in 1989 near the southern coastal city of Sidon. He and his supporters built the Bilal bin Rabah mosque in 1997. But the sheikh only entered the public eye after the Syrian uprising began in March 2011. He was one of the first to organize large rallies to support the rebels. ...
Assir made his most controversial move in April 2013 by sending followers to Syria for an “armed jihad” against Assad’s army and its Hezbollah supporters. The sheikh reportedly even spent a few days with his fighters inside Syria. Footage of Assir firing a machine gun and walking through a trench was posted on social media sites...

Assir, isolated by moderate Sunni parties
Moulahazat, 23-4-2013

There were times when Ahmad Al-Assir would appear on every television, literally every day. ... The collapse of the Lebanese government that was supported by Hezbollah made Assir lose the attention he got over the past few months. A Sunni moderate coming from a traditional Beiruti family is Lebanon’s prime minister-designate, and he got nominated from all the 27 Sunni MPs. Assir can’t go out and say that Tammam Salam is Hezbollah’s candidate...
Assir never had that important impact in Lebanese politics, but he was rising star that’s now fading away. He can’t draw the attention anymore, is seeing his demonstrations getting banned and can’t attack Hezbollah the same way he used to do, because the party isn’t leading the coalition anymore.
All the Sunni parties – except him – will be probably represented in the government, further isolating Lebanese Salafis, and making his speeches look even more sectarian than they are.

Lebanon: UN News Service 24-6-2013
UN senior officials, Security Council ambassadors
condemn challenges to the rule of law

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is following with deep concern the latest developments in the southern city of Sidon, his spokesperson today said.
“The Secretary-General reminds all concerned in Lebanon of their responsibility to avoid conflict and uphold the principles of mutual respect and coexistence in order to preserve Lebanon’s national unity,” the Spokesperson said in a statement.
Following a meeting in Beirut, Lebanon between UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Derek Plumbly and the ambassadors of China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States, all “were unanimous in deploring the recent challenge to the rule of law in Sidon and recent attacks on the Lebanese Armed Forces there and elsewhere,” according to UN spokesperson, Eduardo del Buey.
In separate statements today, Mr. Ban, Mr. Plumbly and the Council ambassadors urged unified support for Lebanon’s President, Michel Sleiman, the institutions of the State and the security forces, and in particular, the army.

Al-Faisal: Syria is an occupied land
Middle East Monitor, 26 June 2013

Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister, Saud Al-Faisal, said on Tuesday that the Kingdom considers Iran and Lebanese group Hezbollah's interference in the conflict in Syria to be dangerous, adding that "We have no choice but to consider Syria as an occupied land at the moment."
Al-Faisal explained that Saudi Arabia believes military aid should be provided to the opposition so they can defend themselves. He also added during a press conference in Jeddah with the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, that Saudi Arabia cannot ignore Iran's interference. He called for a resolution prohibiting the provision of arms to the Syrian regime. Al-Faisal also said that "The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is calling for a clear international decision to prevent supplying the Syrian regime with weapons."

Turki Al-Sudairi (Chief Editor of Al-Riyadh Newspaper) told Al-Arabiya news that "What is happening in Syria cannot happen in any other Arab or Western country because the reason behind the violence is the President Bashar Al-Assad's insistence on remaining in power."

King pledges strong Qatar ties
Saudi-Arabia , Arab News, 27 June 2013

Second Deputy Premier Prince Muqrin, center, holds talks with Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani and Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah and Crown Prince Salman yesterday held talks with Qatar’s leaders reflecting the warmth of neighborly relations between the two countries.
The telephone conversations came as Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, Qatar’s new emir, formed a government yesterday. Sheikh Tamim came to power after his father Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani abdicated in his favor this week.

King Abdullah had sent Second Deputy Premier Prince Muqrin to Doha to convey his greetings to the new ruler.
“The Saudi government and people wish every success to Sheikh Tamim and every progress and stability for Qatar under his wise leadership,” Muqrin said. The second deputy premier highlighted the strong and historic relations between the two countries.
In a televised address to the nation, Sheikh Tamim said his country seeks strong ties with all governments. According to AFP, Sheikh Tamim said Qatar “rejects divisions in Arab societies on sectarian lines.”

Saudi activist jailed eight years after calling for elections
Al Akhbar, June 25, 2013

A Saudi court has sentenced a human rights activist to eight years in prison for "sedition" after his group campaigned for a constitutional monarchy and elections in the US-backed Gulf Arab kingdom.

Abdulkarim al-Khader co-founded the Saudi Political and Civil Rights Association (ACPRA) and served as its head after the imprisonment of two of his colleagues in March. Mohammed Fahd al-Qahtani and Abdullah Hamad were sentenced to 10 years in prison on charges that included sedition and damaging the country's reputation.
The issue of the security detainees, whose relatives say have been denied fair treatment, has prompted numerous small protests in Saudi Arabia, where demonstrations and political parties are banned.
"(The government) is continuing its campaign against all human rights activists," said Waleed Abu al-Khair, a human rights lawyer and activist in Jeddah. "They are demanding that you sign a pledge to stop demanding reforms and those who refuse are taken to court and sent to jail." Abu al-Khair is also on trial for sedition.

The world's top oil exporter is ruled by the Saud family and protected by the United States.
Members of the royal family hold most top government and military positions and have extensive business interests. The Saud family also rule with the backing of powerful clerics from the kingdom's official extremist Wahhabi school of Sunni Islam which bans the public practice of other religions inside Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Leadership

Although the Saudi king is an absolute monarch in the sense that there are no formal, institutionalized checks on his authority, in practice his ability to rule effectively depends on his astuteness in creating and maintaining consensus within his very large, extended family.
The king is the patriarch of the Al Saud, which, including all its collateral branches, numbered about 20,000 people. These persons traced their patrilineal descent to Muhammad ibn Saud, the eighteenth-century founder of the dynasty.

As one of world's last absolute monarchs, the Saudi Arabian king exercises very broad powers. He is both head of state and head of government. Ultimate authority in virtually every aspect of government rests with the king. All legislation is enacted either by royal decree or by ministerial decree, which has to be sanctioned by the king. ...
The legitimacy of the king's rule is based on the twin pillars of religion and the dynastic history of the Al Saud. The family's most important early ancestor, Muhammad ibn Saud (1710- 65), had been a relatively minor local ruler in Najd before establishing a political and family alliance with the puritanical Muslim preacher and reformer Muhammad ibn Abd al Wahhab (1703-87) in 1744. (

Iran Calls S. Arabia Accomplice of
Takfiris' Crimes against Syrians
FARS News Agency, 27-6-2013

TEHRAN (FNA) - A senior Iranian foreign ministry official rejected the recent claims by Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal about Tehran's interference in Syria, and said it is Saudi Arabia which has turned into a collaborator of Takfiri groups in their crimes against the Syrian people.
“The repetitive claim about Iran’s interference in Syria comes at a time when Saudi Arabia is equipping terrorists in Syria with different (types of) light and heavy weapons in breach of all international regulations and conventions, not to mention its overt military intervention in Bahrain,” Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Seyed Abbas Araqchi said on Wednesday.
“Remarks by Saud al-Faisal are full of contradictions,” the Iranian official further said. He added that Saudi Arabia has turned into an accomplice in the crimes committed by the Takfiri terrorists against the defenseless Syrian people.
Araqchi stated that Saudi Arabia is a “big country with great potentialities” that can create unity among Muslim countries and resolve the problems facing the Muslim world, expressing regret, however, that such potential is currently being used in an opposite way.

The notion that [ six million people] can control
a region is simply a wild dream
Zbigniew Brzezinski, The National Interest, June 24, 2013

Interview with Zbigniew Brzezinski, former White House national-security adviser under Jimmy Carter and now a counselor and trustee at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and a senior research professor at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. The interview was conducted by Jacob Heilbrunn, TNI senior editor.

Heilbrunn: Here we are five years into the Obama administration, and you’re stating that the West is engaging in “mass propaganda.” Is Obama being drawn into Syria because he’s too weak to resist the status quo? What happened to President Obama that brought us here?

Brzezinski: There is a mysterious aspect to all of this. Just consider the timing. In late 2011 there are outbreaks in Syria produced by a drought and abetted by two well-known autocracies in the Middle East: Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
He all of a sudden announces that Assad has to go—without, apparently, any real preparation for making that happen. Then in the spring of 2012, the election year here, the CIA under General Petraeus, according to The New York Times of March 24th of this year, a very revealing article, mounts a large-scale effort to assist the Qataris and the Saudis and link them somehow with the Turks in that effort.
Was this a strategic position? Why did we all of a sudden decide that Syria had to be destabilized and its government overthrown? Had it ever been explained to the American people? Then in the latter part of 2012, especially after the elections, the tide of conflict turns somewhat against the rebels. And it becomes clear that not all of those rebels are all that “democratic.” And so the whole policy begins to be reconsidered. I think these things need to be clarified so that one can have a more insightful understanding of what exactly U.S. policy was aiming at.

Heilbrunn: Historically, we often have aided rebel movements... So what’s wrong with intervening on humanitarian grounds?

Brzezinski: ... I think the problem with Syria is its potentially destabilizing and contagious effect—namely, the vulnerability of Jordan, of Lebanon, the possibility that Iraq will really become part of a larger Sunni-Shiite sectarian conflict, and that there could be a grand collision between us and the Iranians...

Heilbrunn: Are we, in fact, witnessing a delayed chain reaction? The dream of the neoconservatives, when they entered Iraq, was to create a domino effect in the Middle East, in which we would topple one regime after the other. Is this, in fact, a macabre realization of that aspiration?

Brzezinski: True, that might be the case. They hope that in a sense Syria would redeem what happened originally in Iraq. ... And perhaps their views are also infected by the notion, shared by some Israeli right-wingers, that Israel’s strategic prospects are best served if all of its adjoining neighbors are destabilized. ...

Heilbrunn: Obama was clearly not enthusiastic about sending the arms to the Syrian rebels—he handed the announcement off to Ben Rhodes. How slippery do you think this slope is? Do you think that we are headed towards greater American intervention?

Brzezinski: I’m afraid that we’re headed toward an ineffective American intervention, which is even worse. .. It hastens the victory of groups that are much more hostile to us than Assad ever was. I still do not understand why we concluded somewhere back in 2011 or 2012 that Assad should go.

Heilbrunn: Do you think that if the region were to go up into greater upheaval, with a diminution of American influence, Israel would see an opportunity to consolidate its gains, or even make more radical...?

Brzezinski: The notion that [ six million people] can control a region is simply a wild dream.

Heilbrunn: You’re sort of on the opposition bank right now. The dominant voice among intellectuals and in the media seems to be a liberal hawk/neoconservative groundswell, a moralistic call for action in Syria based on emotion. Why do you think, even after the debacle of the Iraq War, that the foreign-policy debate remains quite skewed in America?

Brzezinski: (laughs) This is a country with an extremely simplistic understanding of world affairs, and with still a high confidence in America’s capacity to prevail, by force if necessary. I think in a complex situation, simplistic solutions offered by people who are either demagogues, or are smart enough to offer their advice piecemeal; it’s something that people can bite into. ... This is a country of good emotions, but poor knowledge and little sophistication about the world.

Ex-Israeli Spymaster: Leaders 'Messianic'
Published on Saturday, April 28, 2012 by Common Dreams

Yuval Diskin, the former head of Israel's Shin Bet security agency, has accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak of having "messianic feelings" behind their threats to launch a pre-emptive war on Iran and they should not be trusted.
"I do not believe in a leadership that makes decisions based on Messianic feelings," he continued. "I have seen them up close. They are not messiahs, these two, and they are not the people that I personally trust to lead Israel into an event."
Diskin said, "Over the past 10-15 years Israel has become more and more racist. All of the studies point to this. This is racism toward Arabs and toward foreigners, and we are also becoming a more belligerent society."
Diskin's remarks came days after Israel's military chief, Lieutenant-General Benny Gantz, said Iran was "very rational" and unlikely to build a bomb in the face of world opposition...

Iran's Rohani vows to moderate foreign policy
Reuters|YNet News 29-6-2013

Iran's president-elect Hassan Rohani said on Saturday he would appoint ministers from across its political spectrum as Iranian voters had chosen a path of moderation over extremism. ....
"The future government must operate in the framework of moderation ...(and it) must avoid extremism, and this message is for everyone," Rohani, a former chief nuclear negotiator, said in a speech carried live on state television.
"The next cabinet will be trans-factional ... This government is not obligated to any party or faction, and will work to choose the most qualified people from all sides and factions, under conditions of moderation and temperance." ...
Rohani also urged moderation in Iranian policies towards the rest of the world and called for a balance between "realism" and pursuing the ideals of the Islamic Republic.
"Moderation in foreign policy is neither submission nor antagonism, neither passivity nor confrontation. Moderation is effective and constructive interaction with the world," he said.
"The Islamic Republic of Iran, as a major regional power or the biggest regional power..., must play its role and for this we need moderation." Rohani, who will take office in early August, said he was dedicated to "mutual relaxation of tensions" with other states.

The Muslim Brotherhood replaced state discourse
with Muslim Brotherhood discourse
By: Mohammad Yaghi, Al-Monitor, June 28 2013

Before Mohammed Morsi was elected, the Muslim Brotherhood met with the revolutionary movements to get their votes. The Brotherhood promised that the revolutionaries would be partners in governance, that the Brotherhood’s mistake of allying with the military against the revolution would not be repeated, and that this time the Brotherhood will be loyal to its allies. “Just give us your votes to defeat Ahmad Shafiq (the former regime’s candidate) and everything will be the way you want it,” they said.
Fearing that the old regime might return, millions of people voted for Morsi. The unity between the Brotherhood and the revolutionary movements was enshrined in the agreement at the Fairmont Hotel. The agreement was announced in Morsi’s presence only days before he announced his candidacy.
The agreement’s three most important items were to reshape the Constituent Assembly that would draft a constitution inclusive to all Egyptians, to form a national unity government that would oversee the democratization process, and to appoint a Copt and a woman as vice presidents to showcase the national unity and equality of the post-revolutionary phase.

But what did the Muslim Brotherhood do after winning the presidency?
The Constituent Assembly remained the same. The Muslim Brotherhood, instead of allying with those who gave them their votes, turned their backs and allied with the Salafist forces, which opposed participating in the Jan. 25 revolution.
As a result, the Constitution was not inclusive and it did not consecrate the values of citizenship, freedom and human rights. ... With regard to the government, the Brotherhood favored a government with one color, as if the Brotherhood can alone solve Egypt’s problems...

Instead of opting for realistic solutions to the crisis, which involve partnering with the opposition about the constitution and the electoral law, the Muslim Brotherhood chose to deal with the US instead, just as the old regime did. The Brotherhood did so to buy itself some outside legitimacy to compensate for its eroded legitimacy at home. ...
The Brotherhood also chose to deal with the Syrian crisis from the perspective of the Muslim Brotherhood organization instead of that of the Egyptian state, which should take balanced policy positions.
The Muslim Brotherhood replaced state discourse with Muslim Brotherhood discourse. It adopted sectarian rhetoric. It legitimized — rather than delegitimize — violence on ideological grounds.

Original Title: The Absent Facts in President Morsi’s Speech, Author: Mohammad Yagi, Publisher: Al-Ayyam (P.A.)

"A day of democratic practice"
Millions rally against Mursi
Reuters|Daily Star 1-7-2013

CAIRO: Millions of protesters swarmed into the streets on the first anniversary of Mursi's inauguration on Sunday to demand the resignation of Islamist President Mohammad Mursi... Young revolutionaries united with liberal and leftist opposition parties in a massive show of defiance on the first anniversary of Mursi's inauguration on Sunday, chanting "the people demand the fall of the regime".
The demonstrations, which brought half a million people to Cairo's central Tahrir Square and a similar crowd in the second city, Alexandria, were the largest since the Arab Spring uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

Mursi stayed out of sight throughout the protests but acknowledged through a spokesman that he had made mistakes while adding that he was working to fix them and was open to dialogue. ... An aide to Mursi said he was "encouraged" that events had unfolded mostly peacefully: "This is another day of democratic practice that we all cherish," he said in a statement.
He accused the opposition of being vague in its demands and outlined three ways forward: first, parliamentary elections, which he called "the most obvious"; second, national dialogue, which he said opponents had repeatedly rejected; and third, early presidential elections, as demanded by protesters.

The massive protests showed that the ruling Muslim Brotherhood has not only alienated liberals and secularists by seeking to entrench Islamic rule but has also angered millions of ordinary Egyptians with economic mismanagement. ...
The opposition National Salvation Front coalition of liberal, secular and left-wing parties declared victory, saying the masses had "confirmed the downfall of the regime of Mohamed Mursi and the Muslim Brotherhood".
Influential Qatar-based Muslim cleric Sheikh Youssef Qaradawi, visiting Cairo, appealed to fellow Egyptians to show more patience with Mursi, while saying the president had made errors.
The United States and the European Union have urged Mursi to share power with the opposition, saying only a national consensus can help Egypt overcome a severe economic crisis and build democratic institutions.

Morsi: "“Dialogue is the only way"
Saudi Gazette, June 30, 2013

CAIRO – Thousands of demonstrators waved red cards in Tahrir Square on Sunday to demand the resignation of Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsi, as the spirit of 2011’s revolution returned to the iconic Cairo protest venue.
“This is the second revolution and Tahrir is the symbol of the revolution. The revolution will be launched from here,” said Ibrahim Hammouda, a carpenter who had came from the northern city of Damietta to join the protests.
In 2011, when hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets to end Mubarak’s authoritarian three-decade rule, they held up posters of regime figures with their faces crossed out. This time, protesters are holding pictures of senior leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, from which Morsi hails.

The office of Morsi said dialogue is the only way out of Egypt’s political crisis. “Dialogue is the only way through which we can reach an understanding... The presidency is open to a real and serious national dialogue,” presidential spokesman Ehab Fahmy told reporters.

Al-Zoubi: "We are defending the state, history and existence"
Syrian Arab News Agency, Jul 01, 2013

"Asma is Sunni Muslim, whereas Bashar is Alawite [a sect of Shiite Islam], and there were people in Syria would have expected him to marry into the family of a prominent military commander for example...".
"But they say they fell in love, so who are we to disagree with this?"

Information Minister, Omran al-Zoubi, reiterated that the political leadership in Syria is still committed to the political solution which it has called for since the beginning of the crisis in Syria.
"The leadership also believes that the national dialogue is the essence of the political solution," Al-Zoubi said in his speech at the 50th nniversary of establishing al-Thawra newspaper. "The national dialogue among the Syrians has no place for any Saudi, Gulf, Turkish, Lebanese, Jordanian or non-Syrian figures," the Minister added.
He confirmed that " whoever talks in a sectarian or ethnic language at any time with the aim of differentiation or structural independence or for the dissemination of his culture, betrays Syria and the homeland..."

"It is crystal-clear that the ability of the Muslim Brotherhood to present an example for managing the authority and running the state has failed forever," he said, pointing out that the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt [..] offered the worst example of their experience in leading a country. Minister al-Zoubi pointed out that the Muslim Brotherhood is distinguished by exceptional ability to devastate the national unity, which was their first victim in Egypt.
Al-Zoubi said that ''The Muslim Brotherhood has long claimed that it hasn't had the chance to be at the helm of power…Well they've had this opportunity for more than 13 years in Turkey and one year in Egypt…they wreaked havoc to what has been built over 50 years ago.''
''Following Syria's experience with the Muslim Brotherhood, we came to realize their ability to dash the national unity example and inability to live with it, whether on the intellectual level or through political practice.'' ...

''When we speak of reconciliation, dialogue and tolerance, we mean all Syrian citizens without exception, but when we talk about national, progressive and leftist powers, this does not include the backward and reactionist powers.''
''We are not defending the regime in the narrow sense that the others are using…We are not defending persons or parties, but we are defending the state, history and existence, '' he added.

A secular Egypt, fighting poverty
Russia Today, 1-7-2013

While the situation in the wider Middle East is extremely volatile at the moment, the situation in Egypt, while fluid and potentially incendiary, is not subject to the kind of outside influences of other Middle Eastern nations.
“What we see is that the Egyptian people are saying no to interference in their destiny, they are trying to take back control from the Muslim Brotherhood and are saying that we want to have a secular, modern Egypt that is not ruled by Islamists. There is no foreign hand in what is happening in Egypt today,” said Hugh Miles, a journalist specializing in the Middle East and the Arab world.
Miles’ views are echoed by Neil Clark a UK based journalist and blogger, who told RT that as the economic situation in Egypt continues to worsen and prices for basic foodstuffs and fuel continue to rise, Egyptians will stay out on the streets until they get radical change....

Washington has so far supported Morsi, but is calling for restraint in Egypt and has told him to try and be more inclusive in his policies, but Miles and Clark both believe that what the US is really interested in is having someone at the helm in Egypt who can influence the security situation in Israel. “They [Washington] want someone who can take care of Israel’s interests and they don’t really care if its communists or Islamists or a general,” said Miles.
But most Egyptians who are out on the streets are oblivious to the interests of Washington or Tel Aviv and want an increase in living standards. Clark believes that the socialist policies of the past Egyptian ruler Gamal Abdel Nasser, who ruled from 1952 to 1970, should be emulated in Egypt now.
The model that Egypt followed from 1952 to 1970 under Nasser was hugely successful for the majority of Egyptians. That was the fastest rise in living standards for ordinary people, and these are the kind of policies that Egypt needs to follow now and to break fully 100 percent with the flawed policies of the Mubarak era,” said Clark. ....
However, Mark Almond, a Middle East historian from Oxford University, explained that Morsi is the only person with any kind of democratic legitimacy in Egypt, even though both the army and the police have refused to defend him or his party. ...
He added that whoever comes to power in Egypt will have to face the same basic problems of great poverty and the difficulty of paying for vital resources such as food.

Gamel Abdel Nasser

On July 23rd 1952, Nasser helped to organise a revolt against the Royal Family and King Farouk was overthrown after a few days of bloodless rebellion. The actual figure head for the rebellion was General Neguib. Farouk fled to Italy and Neguib took over control of the nation.
In November 1954, Neguib resigned and retired from public life. As deputy to Neguib, Nasser was the obvious choice to succeed him. This he did on November 17th 1954. Nasser had a very clear vision for modernising Egypt. He identified five targets that he wanted to address:

Poverty in Egypt - Ignorance in Egypt - "National oblivion" - Neglect of Egypt’s infrastructure - No sense of national identity or pride in Egypt.

He was also keen to see Egypt free of any overtones of colonialism – a belief that was to bring him into direct conflict with Britain and France in 1956.
To support his beliefs, Nasser did what he could to restore national pride to all Arab nations – not just Egypt.

Egypt military: Mohammed Morsi no longer in office
PressTV, Jul 4, 2013

General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the head of Egypt’s army, announced that President Mohamed Morsi was no longer in office during a speech on state television on July 3, practically overthrowing him.” Sisi also suspended the country’s constitution, saying that new parliamentary elections will be held. The army chief declared Head of Supreme Constitutional Court Adli Mansour as the interim president. Egyptian security forces have detained two senior leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood close to Morsi. Rashad Bayoumi, the group’s deputy leader, and Saad al-Katatni, the leader of the Brotherhood’s political arm, were arrested just hours after Morsi’s overthrow.

Immediately following Gen. Al Sisi's announcement on Wednesday, the head of Al Azhar, the Cairo University that is widely acknowledged as the seat of Sunni learning, the pope of Egypt's Coptic Christian minority and Mohamed ElBaradei, the leader of Egypt's main opposition group, each addressed the Egyptian public to announce their support for Gen. Al Sisi's "road map."
The road map was meant to "rectify the course of the revolution," Mr. ElBaradei said. A national reconciliation committee would be formed to overcome Egypt's social divisions, he added, though he offered no details its work. "The important thing is that early presidential elections will be held," said Mr. ElBaradei. "That was one of the main demands of the people." (
Following Morsi’s overthrow, prominent opposition leader Amr Moussa said talks for a new Egyptian government had started: “Consultations will start from now, for a government and reconciliation,” said the former Arab League chief. “This is the end of Morsi’s regime. It’s over.”

In reaction to the events in Egypt, US President Barack Obama expressed deep concern over the Egyptian army’s removal of Morsi and urged a quick return to a civilian government.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said, “Many Egyptians in their protests have voiced deep frustrations and legitimate concerns. At the same time, military interference in the affairs of any state is of concern.”
Saudi King Abdullah congratulated Adli Mansour, saying his appointment comes at a “critical” time in the history of Egypt: “On behalf of the people of Saudi Arabia, I congratulate you for taking over the leadership of Egypt at this critical time in its history,” Abdullah said in an astonishingly quick message of congratulation to Mansour.

President al-Assad: "What is happening in Egypt
is fall of so-called "Political Islam"
Syrian Arab News Agency, Jul 04, 2013

Damascus, (SANA) – President Bashar al-Assad has said that what is happening in Egypt is the fall of so-called "political Islam", adding that those who use religion for political interests or for the interests of one group will fall anywhere in the world.
In an interview given to al-Thawra newspaper, President al-Assad said, "You cannot deceive everyone all the time, particularly the Egyptian people who have a civilization dating back to thousands of years, and clear pan-Arab nationalist thought."
The President added that after a year the image has become clear for the Egyptian people and the performance of the Muslim Brotherhood helped them uncover the lies made by the Brotherhood in the beginning of the popular revolution in Egypt."
President al-Assad said the experiment of the Muslim Brotherhood's rule failed even before it started because this kind of rule is not consistent with the nature of the people and the project of the brotherhood is hypocritical, because it actually aims at creating sedition in the Arab world.
The President stressed that sedition cannot last in societies that possess knowledge, adding "this is why from the beginning I said their project is a failure before it began and this is what made the Muslim Brotherhood's experiment fall quickly because it is wrong, and what is built on a wrong principle will definitely fall."

Morsi role at Syria rally seen as tipping point for Egypt army
The Irish Times, Jul 4, 2013

Army concern about the way President Mohamed Morsi was governing Egypt reached tipping point when the head of state attended a rally packed with hardline fellow Islamists calling for holy war in Syria, military sources have said.
At the June 15th rally, Sunni Muslim clerics used the word “infidels” to denounce both the Shias fighting to protect Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and the non-Islamists that oppose Mr Morsi at home.
Mr Morsi himself called for foreign intervention in Syria against Mr Assad, leading to a veiled rebuke from the army, which issued an apparently bland but sharp-edged statement the next day stressing that its only role was guarding Egypt’s borders. ...
For the army, the Syria rally had crossed “a national security red line” by encouraging Egyptians to fight abroad, risking creating a new generation of jihadists, said Yasser El-Shimy, analyst with the International Crisis Group.
At the heart of the military’s concern is the history of militant Islam in Egypt, homeland of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri. The military source condemned recent remarks made by “retired terrorists” allied to Mr Morsi, who has deepened his ties with the once-armed group al-Gamaa al-Islamiya.

Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya is an Egyptian Sunni Islamist movement, and is considered a terrorist organization by the United States and European Union. The group is (or was) dedicated to the overthrow of the Egyptian government and replacing it with an Islamic state.
From 1992-1998 Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya fought an insurgency against the Egyptian government during which at least 796 Egyptian policemen and soldiers, Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya fighters, and civilians including dozens of tourists were killed.
In 2003 the imprisoned leadership of the group renounced bloodshed, and a series of high-ranking members have since been released by Egyptian authorities, and the group has been allowed to resume semi-legal peaceful activities.
Following the Egyptian Revolution of 2011, the movement formed a political party, the Building and Development Party, which gained 13 seats in the 2011-2012 elections to the lower house of the Egyptian Parliament. (Wikipedia info)

‘Jordan Brotherhood has lessons to learn from Egypt’
by Khetam Malkawi and Khaled Neimat,| Jul 04, 2013

AMMAN: Islamists in Jordan will have to revisit their approach following events in Egypt where president Mohamed Morsi was deposed Wednesday and his group sidelined after one year in power.
According to Fahed Kheitan, a columnist at Al Ghad daily, the Muslim Brotherhood will go through a transformational phase following the drastic changes in Egypt, but they have a chance to “turn the challenge to an opportunity” if they re-invent themselves.
“They should learn from what happened in Egypt,” the analyst said, adding that with the relapse in the status of the Egypt-based international organisation of the Muslim Brotherhood, “branches everywhere else are left on their own”.
Asked how a feasible approach of the group would look like, Kheitan said the Islamists have to “free Islam from their ideology and stop claiming that they are the only representatives of the faith”. “I believe they are not ready yet to be that positive,” he said... (Jordan Times 2013)

Arabism is the universal identity of all Arabs
by Talal Salman, As-Safir Newspaper 3-7-2013

The objections against the Muslim Brotherhood included their seeking to monopolize power, their use of religious slogans to brand those who oppose them as apostates, their submission to American hegemony, their seeking the approval of the Israeli occupation, their abandoning of the Arab’s No. 1 cause of Palestine, and their enthusiastic support for the Syrian oppositionists, especially the Islamists, many of whom are even bloodier than al-Qaeda, and deny the Arab identity of the Syrian people.

Arabism is the universal identity of all Arabs — Muslims, Christians, Copts, and those of other religions.
The return to Egypt of Nasserite discourse (of President Gamal Abdel Nasser) is not a reaction to the Brotherhood’s discourse. It is an expression of the Arab nation’s spirit and the Arab peoples’ goal of ridding themselves of foreign domination, confronting Israeli occupation, and rebuilding their economies on a sound footing to preserve the Arab peoples’ dignity and reject the humiliation imposed by foreign (and American-controlled) financial institutions.
The facts have revealed that Islamist organizations consider their true enemy to be Arabism, which is the universal identity of the Arab peoples and represents their aspirations to freedom, progress and unity.
The Lebanese people are aware of that fact and have paid a heavy price when their leaders ignored Arabism. When Arabism took a backseat, such as what happened in Syria and Egypt, a climate of civil war returned to Lebanon because the Lebanese sects start fighting over which sect will control the government. Lebanon’s only safety net is when Arabism prevailed in the region, be it in Syria or Egypt. ..

The majority of the Arabs are Muslims, but they do not accept extremism or factionalism. ...
Slogans are not enough. Chanting “no to sectarianism” or “no to the dominance of one opinion, one organization, or one leader” is not enough. It is not enough for everybody to be opposed to a religious government. It is not enough for everybody to oppose a military dictatorship. It is not enough for everybody to proclaim their belief in democracy.
They must also have a competent leadership made up of qualified people who will put forth a national plan that the Egyptians would support but that also would inspire the Arabs in other countries. Egypt should not care only about itself because isolationism will kill the Egyptian revolution.

In the 1950s, when all the Arabs looked to Egypt for leadership, Egypt was not greater nor militarily stronger than it is today. Back then, the Arabs looked toward Egypt because they lacked leadership at home. So the Arabs responded to Egypt’s call and moved to support the Egyptian revolution. Today, the Arabs are again without leadership and they are once again looking toward Egypt to supply it.

The secular, Arab-Nationalist agenda of Nasser was not compatible with the Brotherhood’s ideal Islam-based society. These two opposing views would lead to a direct conflict between the two entities. Nasser’s bold vision of an independent and modern Arab world clashed with the Brotherhood’s traditional approach steeped in culture and Islam. (Source)

Nasserism is an Arab nationalist and pan-Arab ideology, combined with a vaguely defined socialism, often distinguished from Eastern bloc or Western socialist thought by the label 'Arab socialism'. Though opposed ideologically to Western capitalism, Arab socialism also developed as a rejection of communism, which was seen as incompatible with Arab traditions, and the religious underpinnings of Arab society.
Though mindful of the Islamic and Christian heritage of the Arab World, as with Ba'athism, Nasserism is largely a secular ideology. Just as with other manifestations of Arab nationalism, this led to direct conflict with Islamic orientated Arab political movements from the 1950s onwards, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood...(Wikipedia info)