Saturday, February 26, 2011

Comments Trailed:

Obama's policy on Libya: Decision by international committee (irony and forgiveness) Page 3 page 4 Page 5

When I read this statement by one of the commenters:

"Obama decided to reflect on how best to approach the issue in consultation with allies"

I was reminded of a long forgotten The Sanbaggers' episode: Decision by Committee:

"C: You can't have the power without the responsibility.

Burnside: And you mean I'm irresponsible?
C: Not as you see it I know. But we're answerable to the government of the day. You can't have the tail wagging the dog.
Burnside: But you will allow the dog to bark.
C: To bark yes, but it must bite strictly within the rules."

So, is it a longing for democratization or merely resurgent pan-Arab nationalistic fervour?

This recent triumphalist post from Angry Arab is interesting in its reckless lack of consideration for the platitudes of MSM towards the "democratization" wave that it sweeping the Arab world. I'm quoting it in full and highlighting the most telling statements:

I have argued in public speeches (although I have not published it yet) about "the rejuvenation of Arab nationalism" in the wake of the war on Iraq back in 1991. I still stand by my thesis and now find ample evidence of it. This is an unreported story of the developments in the Arab world: how the events in Tunisia have affected every Arab country in one way or another, and only Arab countries. How the slogans are being changed from maghrib to mashriq without an organizational orchestration. Tunisia is leading the way: it is setting the tone and pace of the uprisings. I am watching live footage of demonstrations in Tunisia today: and the slogans could not be clearer: a voice of Arab nationalist solidarity. There are flags of most Arab countries in the protests in Tunisia today, and as soon as Bin Ali fled, Tunisians were chanting about the "liberation of Palestine." Egyptian protesters have been more cautious in their collective action because: 1) Egyptian nationalism is strong and have been nurtured for decades by Sadat and Mubarak AND Camp David; 2) Egyptian protesters are keen on not antagonizing the military at this point for many reasons, and the Arab nationalist manifestation would translate into undermining that precious--by US/Israeli standards--treaty. But these are revolutionary time: Alexander Kerensky is barely remembered in the Russian Revolution. Ahmad Shafiq will be a footnote to the story. The Tunisian protesters will also lead the way in how they keep pushing: after they achieve victories, they push even more. Now they want to bring down the cabinet and to create a constitutional convention. Finally: what is Aljazeera if not an Arab nationalist phenomenon? Also, note that Islamist from Tunisia to Morocco and to Egypt are now increasingly speaking about the "Arab ummah".

By way of explanation of the meaning of Mashriq-Maghrib, you can read here :

"Histories of the period often draw on the difference between East and West in their commentaries on events, as in the case of the Andalusian Ibn Said who argued that the Mashriq was more stable because its people were less likely to rebel against an unpopular ruler, being more mindful of the horrors of civil strife and the dangers of occupation than their Maghrebi counterparts.

A Muslim writing in Arabic in a part of Europe, Spain, which was then regarded as part of the Arab Maghreb, and who was writing in an era when Andalus was ruled by Muluk-ul-Tawaif (Kings of Sects) sees tolerance for tyranny as quite a useful thing if it stops the state from breaking down as it eventually did when Andalusia went the way of Carthage. "


I'm paying attention to what this one angry blogger says because it gives me some access, at least one kind of perspective, into
the vast subconscious ocean of historical references that informs the Arab Street's perception of itself and its place in the world.

It seems that the rest of the world watches the explosion of rage and mutiny in the Arab countries and cannot make up its mind as to whether this bodes well for future peace, or not.

Here is Andre Glucksmann, trying to sort out his own puzzled struggle between wanting to believe and actual believing:

"A power of opposites, freedom offers "the deepest abyss and highest heaven" (Schelling). Europe's path shows us that a revolution can go in any direction, towards a republic, but also towards terror, conquests and wars. In the same moment that the power is shaking in Cairo, Tehran is celebrating the 32nd anniversary of its revolution with a festival of hangings and savage torture. Egypt - please God - is neither Khomeni's Iran, nor Lenin's Russia nor the Germany of the Nazi revolution. Egypt will become what its youth in their eagerness to breathe and communicate freely, what its Muslim brothers, its suspicious and secretive army, and its rich and poor who live light years apart, want to make of it.

Forty percent of Egyptians suffer from malnutrition, 30 percent are illiterate. This makes democracy difficult and fragile but in no way impossible. If it were, Parisians would never have occupied the Bastille. According to a PEW poll from June 2010, 82 percent of Egyptian Muslims want the introduction of Sharia law and stoning for adulteresses; 77 percent find it normal for thieves to have their hands hacked off and 84 percent are in favour of the death penalty for anyone who changes religion. This puts a lid on any overly rosy predictions for the future.

From the revolution and its repetitions to democracy and a secular republic, France needed two hundred years. In Russia and in China the interval will not be less, if indeed the journey ever reaches an end at all. Even the United States, which believed that the kingdom of heaven could be reached within ten years, was mistaken. First came a horrific civil war, a class war and a battle for civil rights - a long two hundred years of rage.

Saying revolution and freedom is not the same as saying democracy, respect for minorities, equal rights and good relations with neighbouring nations. All this has yet to be achieved. We welcome the Arab revolution and will continue to watch with our eyes open to the potential dangers. But we should not pretend it is something it is not: all the risks, even the worst dangers, still lie ahead. We only need to look back at our own history: the future has no guarantee.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Update from the Angry Arab

Snoopy pointed out AA's incoherent rationality.

Here is another example:

Religious loonies from Israel: why they are ignored in the WEst

"IDF deputy chief: Israel's army needs faith in God more than tanks: Deputy Chief of Staff Yair Naveh said the events currently shaking the Arab world 'were ordained from above' by a guiding hand."

One wonders. If someone supports Palestinians and is fervently hoping for Israel to suffer great defeats, humiliations and possibly a few massacres and expulsions, wouldn't that someone rejoice in the fact that the IDF Deputy Chief of Staff is relying more on God rather than tanks to defend Israel from these calamities? Wouldn't he wish to keep this as little known as possible from Western media? If CNN got hold of this piece of excellent strategic thinking, what would it criticize? How could this particular information serve to further demonize Israel's image in the court of public opinion?

Headline: Second highest ranking Israeli military officer: Israel needs less tanks, more faith!

And this blogger is a professor who teaches students at a university to think rationally...

Comment trail:

@ TNR: Country strong
page 2
Page 3

(Obama's emerging passive aggressive policies vis a vis Israel)

Anger and stupidity

Saturday, February 19, 2011

How to cure a hangover:

An Angry Arab's New Definition of "Democracy"

I'm fascinated by this Angry Arab blog. It provides a wealth of insights into the paradoxical mind of a Berkeley professor who describes himself as "a former Marxist-Leninist, now an anarchist", a feminist, and an "atheist secularist".

Reading his "news service" (as valuable a window into the inscrutable mass psychology of the Arab Street as MEMRI is), one can only marvel at the boldness and unselfconsciousness of AA's cognitive dissonance. He is the embodiment of Orwellian doublethink, that is, the act of simultaneously accepting as correct two mutually contradictory beliefs.

For an intellectual who defines himself as an anarchist, he seems to cheer what he diagnoses as the resurgence of Pan-Arabism and totalitarian, genocidal Arab Islamic ideology.

Here is an example:

In this blogpost he jeers at the NYT pundits who misunderstand what drives the Egyptian revolution:

"What do the Egyptians want, according to the New York Times?

Well, look at this headline: "Egyptians Say Military Discourages an Open Economy." Yes, the thing that Egyptians really have fought for is to make the economy more "open" and to invite more MNCs and to encourage the rise of more corrupt billionaires in the country. That was the goal of the Egyptian uprising, yeah"

Later on he provides a few possible answers as to what he thinks, with obvious approval, motivates the mass uprisings:

"Zionists who are freaking out, may freak out even more

For those who say that there are no foreign policy goals for Egyptian protesters, you need to watch this. In it, Egyptians (more than 2 million today) in Tahrir Square chant: "To Jerusalem we are heading, Martyrs in the millions." (Yes, it rhymes in Arabic) عالقدس رايحين, شهداء بالملايين (thanks Farah)"

"Arab nationalism

Fouad Ajami, and other Zionists who have had declared that Arab nationalism is long dead, need to explain this: how events in one Arab country are influencing another? How slogans chanted in Tunisia are also chanted in Egypt and Bahrain?"

So, the secular anarchist from Berkeley applauds and can hardly contain his exuberance as he perceives an ostensibly "democratic" movement expressing itself in excessive nationalism and religious fanaticism.

Anyone who as yet has not figured out the true meaning of the Egyptian "democratic revolution" ought to visit AA's blog. I don't know. Is there a really effective toddy for the morning-after hangover?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Those Fickle Iranians...

Angry Arab (or, as Snoopy calls him affectionately: "Pissed Cousin") is puzzled and upset. Looks like the Iranian protesters did not get the memo.*

When he first hears about it, he refuses to believe:

A different taste to Iranian protests

"Aljazeera commented, regarding US cheers for Iranian protests, that protests in Iran "have a different taste" for the US government. By the way, an Iranian comrade sent me that that on-line groups have maintained that some of the protesters in Iran yesterday chanted "No to Gaza, and No to Lebanon." Is that true? "

Less than hour later, the painful truth begins to trickle in:

No to Gaza? Are you kidding me?

I have more reasons to be fiercely opposed to the Green Movement than ever. I received confirmation that signs and chants by Iranian Green protesters included the slogan "No to Gaza" (I don't care about Lebanon). Are you kidding me? First, the leader of the Green Movement wants to return to "the purity" of Khumayni's revolution and you wonder why I would not lend support? I am for the overthrow of the Iranian regime of course, and the Supreme Guide has to be toppled and the position canceled but the Green Movement won't do it. The Green Movement is like March 14 Movement in Lebanon: worthy only of my scorn. Of course, there are Iranian leftist protesters who don't support the Green Movement: those get my vote. And what has Gaza done to you? Gaza is not Hamas (Hamas has installed a lousy government in Gaza but the Abu Mazen government in the West Bank is ever far lousier because, as Sa'ib `Urayqat admitted in the Palestine Papers, they lie and "kill Palestinians" for Israel.) Gaza is an impoverished community of uprooted and occupied Palestinians who live under siege. No to Gaza? Oh, no: NO to the Green Revolution and its pro- Khumayni leaders. Between Khamenei and Khumayni: I choose neither. Between Ahdmadinajad and Musavi, I choose neither.

The next morning it can no longer be puzzled upon:

That lousy Green Movement

"“Not Gaza or Lebanon! Tunisia, Egypt, and Iran!” protesters shouted in the streets." That is why I chant: no to Ahmadinajad, and no to Green Movement. (thanks Laleh)


* Just to make it clear how the AA is positioned:

"Friedman says this: "The Arab tyrants, precisely because they were illegitimate, were the ones who fed their people hatred of Israel as a diversion." Of course, it is the other day round. Arab tyrants are friends of Israel and the bit of anti-Israel rhetoric that comes out of them is forced by the people on them."


Update: An Iranian reader of AA apologizes for and explains his people's fickleness:

... The strategic goal of Israel is separating Iran and Iranian people from Resistance in Lebanon and Palestinian movement. This kind of slogan produces a sharp wedge between the two side. Nourizadeh is clearly connected to Pro-zionist and Saudi elements. even he was attacking Al-jazeera arabic in Egypt demonstrations that people in Egypt are angry what business this Aljazeera based in tiny qatar has in Egypt? His son recently has become a director in a major Hollywood program. But why this slogan suggested by them was picked up by some? It was picked mostly by more secular or anti-religious elements. But also it was pickled up as a backlash to the instrumental use of the Palestinian Plight by the Ahmadinejaad. In one sense this slogan is not as negative towards palestinians as it is felt in translation,.. At least sentiment of those who shouted it is not that they are hostile or indifferent to Palestinian Plight or Lebanese resistance,...they meant mostly ok we have done as far as we could do for those people and we cannot do much more and we have had paid for it,.. all these embargo and sanctions on Iran, which drastically effect the economic life of ordinary man in Iranian streets, is happening because of the hostility with Israel,.. the moment Iran become friend with Israel these will go away and all doors will become open on Iran. Believe me no people in the world has paid as Iranian people for the support of Palestinan cause, although in no way was their direct concern,... This has been done for the sake of God and human and moral values. I am proud of this sacrifice,...But for some this sacrifice has become too much,... specially when has not been seconded by many Arab countries or people and in occasions was not even appreciated by palestinians ( like their support for Saddam Hossein). This is not my personal opinion,.. but the sentiment of those who had shouted this slogan,..There is a proverb in Persian that says that "The Lamb which is needed for home is forbidden to be donated to the mosque". Kind of this proverb is a restatement of the following Quranic verse... "

It's all Israel's fault, you see. It was Israel that introduced the slogan into the demostrations and "secular antireligious elements" [those collaborators, you see] picked it up...


Update II: But Angry Arab is consoled by fellow Arabs who, unlike those fickle Iranians, have not got distracted from their main goal due to such silly concepts like democracy...:

Friday, February 18, 2011
Zionists who are freaking out, may freak out even more
For those who say that there are no foreign policy goals for Egyptian protesters, you need to watch this. In it, Egyptians (more than 2 million today) in Tahrir Square chant: "To Jerusalem we are heading, Martyrs in the millions." (Yes, it rhymes in Arabic)
عالقدس رايحين, شهداء بالملايين

Comment trail:

@TNR: After Cairo
(CC unimpressed)
Page 3

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Aftermath of an Egyptian Rebellion: Comments trailed:

@ TNR: Justifiable stupidity page 2

@ Terry's: The Egyptian Revolution

Jews for peace message to Egyptians and Clueless with challa in BC


Relevant to the above:

The highly respected Ehud Ya'ari, Israeli journalist and political commentator, reported today on Israel's TV [Unauthorized translation]:

"Egypt’s army had indeed announced that it would continue to honour the peace agreements with Israel, but a worrisome signal arrived this evening from the head of an opposition group in Israel’s neighbouring country as far as concerns the future relationiship between Israel and Egypt.

“The Camp David Treaty is finished," said today Dr. Ayman Nour, the head of “Tomorrow”, an opposition party leader in an interview to an Egyptian radio station. Nour had spent a few years in Egyptian jail and the US administration had exerted many efforts to have him released. He intends to run in the presidential elections due to be held in a few months.

Dr. Nour added: “At the very least, Egypt has to re-negotiate the terms of the peace agreement. “ Dr. Nour is not a member of the extreme group “Muslim Brotherhood”; he is secular and democratic. That’s why this statement is particularly worrisome, the first of its kind so far." (H/T: Ginzy)

Source in Hebrew:

צבא מצרים הודיע אומנם שיכבד את הסכמי השלום עם ישראל, אבל איתות מדאיג מגיע הערב מראשי האופוזיציה במדינה השכנה בכל הקשור ליחסים בין ירושלים וקהיר

הסכם קמפ דיוויד נגמר", אמר הערב ראש "מפלגת המחר" במדינה, ד"ר איימן נור, בראיון לתחנת רדיו מצרית. ד"ר נור בילה שנים בכלא המצרי, וארה"ב פעלה רבות כדי לשחררו. עכשיו הוא מתכוון לרוץ לנשיאות מצרים, בבחירות שיתקיימו בעוד מספר חודשים

בראיון הוא הוסיף כי, "מצרים צריכה לכל הפחות לנהל משא ומתן מחדש על תנאי ההסכם". ד"ר נור הוא איש אופוזיציה מצרי שאיננו נמנה על "האחים המוסלמים" הקיצוניים, אלא דווקא נחשב ליברל ודמוקרט, ועל כן ההתבטאות מדאיגה במיוחד - למרות שהיא הראשונה מסוגה כרגע.

Another source, here


"Q) Why is mass anti-Semitism incompatible with genuine liberal democracy?

A) Because anti-Semitism represents an emphatic rejection of the universalist principles which underpin liberal-democracy. This is why anti-Semitism can emerge as a mortal danger to non-Jews as well as Jews. The social, cultural and political forces unleashed by anti-Semitism are inherently antithetical to the classical liberal values of the Enlightenment. They are also antithetical to reason itself. All polities dominated by virulent anti-Semitism will therefore struggle to produce liberal-democratic outcomes. Some will produce extreme tyrannies. Christopher Hitchens was hinting at precisely these thoughts in the following remarks made in an article for Slate in February 2006: “…only a moral cretin thinks that anti-Semitism is a threat only to Jews. The memory of the Third Reich is very vivid in Europe precisely because a racist German regime also succeeded in slaughtering millions of non-Jews, including countless Germans, under the demented pretext of extirpating a non-existent Jewish conspiracy.”

Q) So, given the presence of both mass anti-Semitism in Egypt and, in the form of the Muslim Brotherhood, a major political movement ready to hone down and exploit this anti-Semitism, is liberal-democracy impossible in Egypt?

A) It depends on whether and to what extent anti-Semitism becomes a dominant theme in the political discourse in the manner that it has long been a dominant theme in the cultural and religious discourse. But given the near ubiquity of anti-Semitism in mainstream society, the great danger is that anti-Semitism will become an ideological mainstay of whatever new regime emerges. Here’s how it might unfold: The Muslim Brotherhood becomes part of a government dominated (initially) by Egyptian nationalists. Anti-Semitism emerges as the common denominator holding these two forces together. In political terms this leads to a much more hostile approach to Israel. During a flashpoint, like Operation Cast Lead for example, the Islamists demand direct support for Hamas. The nationalist constituency opposes such a move thus handing the initiative to the Brotherhood which discredits its opponents by portraying them as agents of the US-Zionist conspiracy. At this point we get an Islamist takeover. "


@ Pyramidion: Dr. Ezzat repeats a conspiracy report. He doesn't really believe it but what the hell, it can still be put to some use. Same old canards under a new name: Democracy

"On Sunday night, 30th January and on one of the live news shows that was discussing the uprising in Egypt, Omar Afifi, a former Egyptian police captain told BBC Arabic TV that – according to his resources in Washington- there is a close cooperation now between Mubarak and Israel as to how to control and subdue this uprising. Even more, he said that a cargo of special automatic sniper rifles were being shipped from Israel to the Egyptian internal security forces to be used to take down the leaders of the protestors in case the demonstrations were growing in number and getting out of control.

Any way and despite the fact that the veracity of those statements remain hard to verify but it goes without saying that Israel is watching this dramatic scenario of a close ally to Israel going down with great concern."


Egyptian Liberation joke (H/T: Nizo):

All Israelis left Egypt due to the unrest.

Except for Hosni Mubarak

Friday, February 04, 2011

Egyptian Democracy: Watch out, for this too can be a mirage...

@ Bob's: Holocaust memorial and hecklers:

American policy and radical Islam Page 2

(Zizek and Ramadan on Al-jazeera)

Wieseltier opines
Page 2
Page 3

@Nizo's: Pity the child

@Bob's: The Scent of Jasmin

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Quo Vadis, Egypt?

Amr Bargisi

"But regardless of my own opinion, what is clear is that Egypt lacks the sort of political culture that can sustain a liberal democratic regime. The superficiality of the opposition's demands is matched only by the absurdity of the regime's discourse. Without knowledge of the likes of Locke and Burke, Hamilton and Jefferson, my country is doomed to either unbridled radicalism or continued repression."