A devastatingly important question posed, interestingly enough, by Ian Black, the Guardian’s Middle East editor:
‘Mummy, why did everyone forget about Syria when Gaza started?’
It’s a truism that news organisations and audiences alike struggle to cope with more than one major international crisis at a time: if the war in Gaza wasn’t a big enough story, then the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine was almost unbearable overload. But what about Syria, where 1,700 people are reported to have died in the last 10 days alone?
Lets have a look at the facts:
In May, the death toll in Syria was counted at 160,000 in two years of fighting. Although this figure has most certainly increased since then.
The death toll in Syria’s three-year conflict has climbed past 160,000, an activist group said Monday, a harrowing figure that reflects the relentless bloodletting in a civil war that appears no closer to being resolved.
Two more installments from that age-old irrational obsession: ‘Blame the Jews’ for all that goes wrong in the Muslim world. The only mandatory rule is that no evidence will be required.
Turkey’s prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has blamed, who else, the Jews for ousting the Muslim Brotherhood.
Turkey’s prime minister on Tuesday accused Israel of being behind the ouster of Egypt’s Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, offering as the only evidence for his claim a statement by a Jewish French intellectual during a meeting with an Israeli official.
The Egyptian Cabinet rejected Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s statement as baseless and “bewildering,” saying its patience was running low with Turkey, one of the biggest critics of the July 3 military coup.
Israel said the claim wasn’t worth comment.
Also posted in Antisemitism
It seems every day there is news of confirmed supporters fleeing the sinking ship that is Muslim Brotherhood. Here’s yet another defection, from Al-Arabiya:
A firebrand Egyptian cleric and television preacher has denounced the Muslim Brotherhood after his arrest on Wednesday near the Libyan border.
Safwat el-Hegazy told investigators that he was not part of the Muslim Brotherhood and that if he could go back in time he would have never supported them, a security source said.
“It’s not because they are terrorists and encourage blood shedding, but it is because they don’t work well and cannot do anything right,” Hegazy was quoted as saying.
Hegazy who is wanted over charges of instigating violence was captured early Wednesday at a checkpoint near the Siwa Oasis, near Libya. He reportedly tried to flee the country across the Libyan border.
Growing numbers of rebels are switching to Assad’s negotiated amnesty because they are starting to realise that there is one thing worse than the Assad regime: Islamism.
At the same time, the families of retreating fighters have begun quietly moving back to government-controlled territory, seen as a safer place to live as the regime continues its intense military push against rebel-held areas.
The move is a sign of the growing confidence of the regime, which has established a so-called “ministry of reconciliation” with the task of easing the way for former opponents to return to the government side.
Ali Haider, the minister in charge, said: “Our message is, ‘if you really want to defend the Syrian people, put down your weapons and come and defend Syria in the right way, through dialogue’.”
Dr Kemal Helbawy was a prominent Muslim Brotherhood operative, who for decades served as the their representative to the UK. Following the revolution he returned to live in Egypt in 2011. Helbawy is not known to be a moderate nor a lover of Jews. But recently he has had some serious misgivings about the Morsi government which he was keen to air publicly in an interview with Roshan Muhammed Salih. Here are some very surprising comments by Helbawy on the recent Egyptian coup/regime change/popular uprising, call it what you will, and the reasons behind them.
RMS: What is your reaction to the recent miltary coup?
KH: It wasn’t a military coup, it was the greatest democratic event in our history. There were millions of people on the streets and the military simply responded to their desire to do away with the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) government which had failed the country.
Take a look at this 12 year old Egyptian boy, Ali Ahmed, and marvel how he puts Western supporters of the toppled Morsi government to shame. He has understood the politics of the Muslim Brotherhood better than your average Western pro-Islamist “liberal”.
Calling the Brotherhood fascists, Ali gushes forth a stream of consciousness on Morsi’s litany of failures on women’s rights, social and economic inequalities and the Egyptian constitution.
You have to wonder at the cognitive dissonace of Western supporters of Morsi’s deposed Muslim Brotherhood government. Chances are they have never lived in totalitarian Islamist state in a Muslim-majority country. Though they have grown fat on the freedoms and privileges the West offers them, they loathe the idea that those same freedoms should be enjoyed by, say, the people of Egypt.
Let’s see the clowns try and label this young chap an “Islamophobe” and “pro-Western stooge”.
The title of an article by Hazeem Kandil on the LRB blog is “The End of Islamism” trailing with a threatening question mark. He makes some solid points to justify the motivation behind the military coup but whether the toppling of Morsi marks the death knell for Islamist politics is doubtful.
Certainly, the Brothers’ dismal performance in power brought about their downfall, rather than some elaborate debate on the legitimacy of Islamism. There was nothing Islamic about the movement’s policies. On the contrary, the moral image they projected was quickly comprised by the shabby deals they tried (and failed) to strike with old regime institutions, and foreign powers they had previously condemned. Once in power, Morsi praised the Interior Ministry so highly that he even claimed this most patriotic of institutions had been an essential partner in the 2011 revolt; and his aides spared no effort in imploring America to save his presidency. Egyptians became rapidly disillusioned with Islamist incompetence, paranoia, double-dealing and, above all, profound arrogance towards people they regarded as less religious than them.
What do the fascist Nick Griffin (BNP), the totalitarian pro-Islamist George Galloway (RESPECT) and the neo-liberal Douglas Murray all have in common? They all oppose NATO intervention in Syria. A curious and diverse set of opinio-makers all converging on the same point.
On close examination, there are bound to be other points where the three doyennes of British illiberalism will converge, partly because, as any political theorist will tell you, in politics the points of extremism will always meet. In the case of our three protagonists, it is their inherent illiberalism that corrals them together.
Here is a catalogue of reasons why the Labour Party should cut ties with the illiberal Henry Jackson society by James Bloodworth:
The associate director of the HJS is Douglas Murray, a columnist for the Spectator and Standpoint, who joined the organisation in April 2011. In March, Murray wrote an article following the release of the results of the 2011 census in which he bemoaned the fact that in “23 of London’s 33 boroughs ‘white Britons’ are now in a minority”.
It took them more than 70 years of protracted “grassroots activism” to get into power in Egypt and less than one year for the Muslim Brotherhood to be ousted by the very same “grassroots” they sought to govern.
Graffiti near Tahrir Square
In the final analysis, it was Mohamed Morsi’s own inability to compromise and his party’s inherent authoritarian nature that failed the Brotherhood. Or as an Egyptian put it:
“Nasser, Sadat, Mubarak all tried to rid Egypt of the Muslim Brotherhood. In the end it was Morsi who succeeded”
What Egyptians have shown is what they, in their hearts, already knew: that Sharia Law alone is not enough for good governance and Islamists make for worthless administrators. Morsi won an election but he failed to build on the democracy that put him into power. Islamism is not “representative” of the Arab Street nor the Greater Muslim World and it certainly is not “indigenous” to it, as has become popular thinking in some sections of the Liberal Left.
James Bloodworth discusses the new report by the One Law for All’s campaign: Siding with the Oppressor: The Pro-Islamist Left.
Because the left doesn’t police its borders in the way that the right has learned to do – social democrats like to pretend the far-left are on the same side as them – extremists regularly sneak into the mainstream on the back of ostensibly progressive front groups.
A good example is Unite Against Fascism.
Launched in 2003 as a response to the electoral activity of the British National Party, UAF spends most of its time these days organising counter demonstrations against the EDL.
An honourable way to pass the time, you might think.
UAF’s definition of what constitutes fascism, however, is a peculiar one. Not only are those advocating the resurrection of a fascistic Islamic caliphate seemingly not worth opposing, they have been actively welcomed into the UAF fold by the leadership.
Also posted in The Far Left