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Matt Warren

Egypt's Changing Foreign Policy Attitudes - 0 views

  • the question is why is Egypt making such a radical change in policy?
  • The common element in these developments is that they are against what Israel has to come to expect of Egypt.
  • On the domestic front, SCAF is well aware of the popular sentiment toward the Palestinians and Israel and is therefore adjusting its behavior accordingly.
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  • The new military rulers also wish to see their country regain its status as the pre-eminent player in the Arab world. From their perspective, this can be achieved by engaging in radical moves vis-a-vis the Palestinians, Israel and Iran.
  • It is unlikely, however, that Egypt is about to truly reverse its position toward Israel. The Egyptians do not wish to create problems with the Israelis.
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    "Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil al-Arabi said in an interview with Al Jazeera on Thursday that Cairo was working to permanently open the Rafah border crossing with the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. Al-Arabi told the Qatari-owned channel that within seven to 10 days, measures would be adopted to assuage the "blockade and suffering of the Palestinian nation." The Egyptian foreign minister added, "It is the responsibility of each country in the world not to take part in what is called the humiliating siege. In my view, this (siege) was a disgraceful thing to happen.""
Matt Warren

Egypt: The Distance Between Enthusiasm and Reality - 0 views

  • What we see is that while Mubarak is gone, the military regime in which he served has dramatically increased its power. This isn’t incompatible with democratic reform. Organizing elections, political parties and candidates is not something that can be done quickly. If the military is sincere in its intentions, it will have to do these things. The problem is that if the military is insincere it will do exactly the same things. Six months is a long time, passions can subside and promises can be forgotten.
  • Power rests with the regime, not with the crowds. In our view, the crowds never had nearly as much power as many have claimed.
  • In a genuine revolution, the police and military cannot contain the crowds. In Egypt, the military chose not to confront the demonstrators, not because the military itself was split, but because it agreed with the demonstrators’ core demand: getting rid of Mubarak. And since the military was the essence of the Egyptian regime, it is odd to consider this a revolution.
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  • The crowd in Cairo, as telegenic as it was, was the backdrop to the drama, not the main feature.
  • Mubarak’s decision to name his son represented a direct challenge to the Egyptian regime. Gamal Mubarak was not a career military officer, nor was he linked to the military’s high command, which had been the real power in the regime.
  • The demonstrators never called for the downfall of the regime. They demanded that Mubarak step aside. This was the same demand that was being made by many if not most officers in the military months before the crowds gathered in the streets.
  • What happened was not a revolution. The demonstrators never brought down Mubarak, let alone the regime. What happened was a military coup that used the cover of protests to force Mubarak out of office in order to preserve the regime. When it became clear Feb. 10 that Mubarak would not voluntarily step down, the military staged what amounted to a coup to force his resignation. Once he was forced out of office, the military took over the existing regime by creating a military council and taking control of critical ministries. The regime was always centered on the military. What happened on Feb. 11 was that the military took direct control.
  • We now face the question of whether the coup will turn into a revolution. The demonstrators demanded — and the military has agreed to hold — genuinely democratic elections and to stop repression. It is not clear that the new leaders mean what they have said or were simply saying it to get the crowds to go home.
  • First, Mubarak’s repression had wrecked civil society.
  • The largest number of protesters arrived in Tahrir Square after the Internet was completely shut down.
  • For all the chatter about the Egyptian people demanding democracy, the fact is that hardly anyone participated in the demonstrations, relative to the number of Egyptians there are, and no one really knows how the Egyptian people would vote on this issue.
  • The Egyptian regime is still there, still controlled by old generals. They are committed to the same foreign policy as the man they forced out of office. They have promised democracy, but it is not clear that they mean it. If they mean it, it is not clear how they would do it, certainly not in a timeframe of a few months. Indeed, this means that the crowds may re-emerge demanding more rapid democratization, depending on who organized the crowds in the first place and what their intentions are now.
  • The week began with an old soldier running Egypt. It ended with different old soldiers running Egypt with even more formal power than Mubarak had. This has caused worldwide shock and awe. We were killjoys in 2009, when we said the Iranians revolution wasn’t going anywhere. We do not want to be killjoys now, since everyone is so excited and happy. But we should point out that, in spite of the crowds, nothing much has really happened yet in Egypt. It doesn’t mean that it won’t, but it hasn’t yet.
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    "On Feb. 11, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak resigned. A military council was named to govern in his place. On Feb. 11-12, the crowds that had gathered in Tahrir Square celebrated Mubarak's fall and the triumph of democracy in Egypt. On Feb. 13, the military council abolished the constitution and dissolved parliament, promising a new constitution to be ratified by a referendum and stating that the military would rule for six months, or until the military decides it's ready to hold parliamentary and presidential elections."
Matt Warren

The Strategy Behind the Military's Fourth Communique - 0 views

  • In other words, the military — and only the military — will be the one to prioritize the state’s agenda, which is likely to differ greatly from the order of priorities outlined by the opposition. The military council then vaguely expresses its “commitment” to the provisions of its previous statements (to meet the demands of the people) and then orders Egyptian citizens to return to work (and thus clear the streets).
  • the council is “committing the Egyptian Arab Republic to all regional and international obligations and treaties.” The military is specifically reassuring Israel and the United States that the 1978 peace accord will remain intact.
  • The military is being strategically vague in its promises to the people, yet direct in clearly articulating its demands to the people. The opposition’s reaction is thus critical to watch in the days ahead. If political forces begin to criticize the military for backtracking on promises and attempt to continue street demonstrations until their demands are met, they will not be met with the same tolerance the military exhibited while Muabrak was clinging onto power.
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    "Egypt's Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, now the caretakers of the state, issued its fourth communique Feb. 12. The language of the statement is deliberately vague enough to keep the opposition guessing, but, in line with STRATFOR's prediction, the military's interest in preserving the regime is overriding the opposition's demands for dismantling the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), revising the Constitution and, most importantly, holding fresh parliamentary elections in a timely manner."
Matt Warren

The Egyptian Military's Defining Moment - 0 views

  • By the time the Egyptian ambassador to the United States cleared up the matter on CNN, the crowd felt betrayed and seemed no longer to care about the significant distinction. They did not want power to be ceded. They wanted Mubarak gone and they wanted the military to take care of the matter.
  • The fact that Mubarak was clinging to the constitution and the crowds were in effect calling for a coup represented a kind of irony, but ultimately not much of one.
  • There is a constitution and Mubarak is the president. If he is simply forced out, the status of the constitution is in doubt and with it, the regime that the military founded under Nasser. Mubarak wanted to serve out his term, but was prepared to cede practical power. That, from their point of view, should have been enough.
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  • The other argument was that at this point the crowds were not asking for regime change, remaining focused on Mubarak. If the military resisted and the crowds turned on them, they would be calling for regime change and with it, everything would be up in the air. Far better to violate the letter of the constitution and depose Mubarak, then risk destroying it all by protecting Mubarak; far better to capitulate to the crowds than to fire on them.
  • Both sides had the same fear — regime change.
  • The choices involved the fate of the nation and the military and one can imagine the arguments, people changing sides, decisions quickly reversed. The players were as confused as the observers.
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    "It was a night of watching. What was being watched was the Egyptian military, faced with a defining moment. President Hosni Mubarak was expected to resign today. People ranging from the head of the CIA to Egyptian government officials to the crowds in the streets clearly expected it to happen. Obviously, word had leaked out from sources close to Mubarak that he had made the decision to go. Yet when he made his speech today, he did not resign. "
Matt Warren

Mubarak Transfers Some Powers - 0 views

  • Mubarak may still be attempting to hang onto power, but that does not mean the military does not have a plan. The military likely has anticipated the opposition’s complete rejection of Mubarak’s minor concessions. Thus, the coming hours will tell whether this is the reaction that the army is waiting for to legitimize their intervention, for if the military does not act, the next likely scenario is for the demonstrations to spiral out of control.
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    "Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak delivered a speech the evening of Feb. 10 in which he announced that, while he would not resign, he would transfer some of his powers to Vice President Omar Suleiman. Mubarak also said he would repeal a three-decade-long state of emergency once the current security situation stabilizes. Once again, the embattled Egyptian president insisted on upholding his duty to the constitution in safeguarding the country until he can peacefully transfer the presidency through elections."
Matt Warren

Mubarak Stepping Down? - 0 views

  • Egyptian Prime Minister and former air force chief Ahmed Shafiq announced to BBC Arabic that discussions are under way for Mubarak to step down.
  • Gen. Hassan al-Roueini, the military commander for the Cairo area, reportedly told protesters in Tahrir Square, “All your demands will be met today.”
  • Then, Shafiq reportedly made a statement saying that Mubarak will in fact stay in his post as president and that Mubarak has not made a decision to step down.
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  • Curiously, no statements from Suleiman have been issued Feb. 10, even though Suleiman assumed de facto leadership of the regime Jan. 29.
  • The details are still extremely murky, but based on the conflicting statements thus far and rumors that have been circulating over the past several days of the army’s distrust of Suleiman as a successor to Mubarak, there appears to be a struggle under way within the regime elite, specifically between serving officers and former officers who have maintained close ties with Mubarak, such as Shafiq and Suleiman. The situation remains in flux, but the army appears ready to intervene in order to usher Mubarak out.
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    "Conflicting statements out of Cairo on Feb. 10 suggest that a struggle is under way between the Egyptian military and civilian elite over Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's political exit."
Matt Warren

Egypt, Israel and a Strategic Reconsideration - 0 views

  • without the foreign military forces along the frontiers, the Palestinians could trouble but not destroy Israel. Israel’s existence was not at stake, nor was it an issue for 33 years.
  • The danger that the Egyptian army posed was that it could close with the Israelis and engage in extended, high-intensity combat that would break the back of Israel Defense Forces by imposing a rate of attrition that Israel could not sustain.
  • It was to the great benefit of Israel that Egyptian forces were generally poorly commanded and trained and that Egyptian war-fighting doctrine, derived from Britain and the Soviet Union, was not suited to the battle problem Israel posed.
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  • One of Israel’s fundamental assumptions was that Israeli intelligence would provide ample warning of an attack. And one of the fundamental assumptions of Israeli intelligence was that Egypt could not mount an attack while Israel maintained air superiority. Both assumptions were wrong.
  • Egypt had a greater interest in breaking its dependency on the Soviets than in defeating Israel. It could do the former more readily than the latter.
  • in the years after the treaty achieved two things.
  • First, they ended Egypt’s dependency on the Soviets. Second, they further guaranteed Israel’s security by creating an Egyptian army dependent on a steady flow of spare parts and contractors from the United States. Cut the flow and the Egyptian army would be crippled.
  • What is now regarded as corruption was then regarded as just rewards for bleeding in four wars against the Israelis.
  • But now is 33 years later, and the world has changed.
  • For this younger generation, the idea of Gamal Mubarak being allowed to take over the presidency was the last straw. They wanted the elder Mubarak to leave not only because he had ambitions for his son but also because he didn’t want to leave after more than a quarter century of pressure. Mubarak wanted guarantees that, if he left, his possessions, in addition to his honor, would remain intact. If Gamal could not be president, then no one’s promise had value. So Mubarak locked himself into position.
  • The cameras love demonstrations, but they are frequently not the real story.
  • The demonstrators who wanted democracy are a real faction, but they don’t speak for the shopkeepers and peasants more interested in prosperity than wealth.
  • I have laid out the reasons why the 1978 treaty is in Egypt’s national interest. I have left out two pieces.
  • The first is ideology. The ideological tenor of the Middle East prior to 1978 was secular and socialist. Today it is increasingly Islamist.
  • Second, military technology, skills and terrain have made Egypt a defensive power for the past 33 years. But military technology and skills can change, on both sides.
  • As new generations of officers arise, who have heard of war only from their grandfathers, the fear of war declines and the desire for glory grows.
  • Two things from this should strike the Israelis.
  • The first is how badly they need peace with Egypt.
  • The second lesson is that Israel should do everything possible to make certain that the transfer of power in Egypt is from Mubarak to the next generation of military officers and that these officers maintain their credibility in Egypt.
  • Given the strategic and ideological crosscurrents in Egypt, it is in Israel’s national interest to minimize the intensity of the ideological and make certain that Israel is not perceived as a threat.
  • The future of Gaza or the precise borders of a Palestinian state are trivial compared to preserving the treaty with Egypt.
  • There are those in Israel who would argue that any release in pressure on the Palestinians will be met with rejection. If that is true, then, in my view, that is catastrophic news for Israel. In due course, ideological shifts and recalculations of Israeli intentions will cause a change in Egyptian policy.
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    "The events in Egypt have sent shock waves through Israel. The 1978 Camp David Accords between Egypt and Israel have been the bedrock of Israeli national security. In three of the four wars Israel fought before the accords, a catastrophic outcome for Israel was conceivable. In 1948, 1967 and 1973, credible scenarios existed in which the Israelis were defeated and the state of Israel ceased to exist. In 1973, it appeared for several days that one of those scenarios was unfolding."
Matt Warren

The Egyptian Transition in a Quandary - 0 views

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    "Egypt's beleaguered President Hosni Mubarak in his second address to the nation within four days announced Tuesday that he would not seek re-election in the presidential polls slated for September, but would oversee the transition of power to a more democratic system until then - a move that was immediately rejected by his opponents. Shortly thereafter, U.S. President Barack Obama called for an orderly transition that would include people from across the Egyptian political spectrum. The two leaders had talked earlier in the day."
Matt Warren

Mideast Turmoil: A Forecast Compilation - 0 views

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    "This is a roundup of some of the fast-accumulating forecasts for Egypt and the Middle East, particularly those taking a longer view (including some of my own)."
Matt Warren

Egypt's Protests and the Significance of Cairo's Stability - 0 views

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    "Protests continued in Egypt on Jan. 26, though there were fewer protesters in the streets than on the previous day. Protests alone will not bring down the Mubarak government, but they create a sense of disorder that the military or opposition groups could use to destabilize Cairo. Such destabilization - especially if it results in regime change, and especially as Cairo is preparing for a leadership change but has no set succession plan - would have implications in the Middle East and beyond."
Matt Warren

The Egypt Crisis in a Global Context: A Special Report - 0 views

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    "It is not at all clear what will happen in the Egyptian revolution. It is not a surprise that this is happening. Hosni Mubarak has been president for more than a quarter of a century, ever since the assassination of Anwar Sadat. He is old and has been ill. No one expected him to live much longer, and his apparent plan, which was that he would be replaced by his son, Gamal, was not going to happen even though it was a possibility a year ago. There was no one, save his closest business associates, who wanted to see Mubarak's succession plans happen. As his father weakened, Gamal's succession became even less likely. Mubarak's failure to design a credible succession plan guaranteed instability on his death. Since everyone knew that there would be instability on his death, there were obviously those who saw little advantage to acting before he died. Who these people were and what they wanted is the issue."
Matt Warren

A Note Of Warning And Encouragement For Egyptians, From An Iranian Writer Who Lived Thr... - 0 views

  • But both the leader and his American supporters were caught off-guard by the size of the demonstrations.
  • When the leader tried to use the force of his military to calm the situation, the United States issued ambiguous statements, indicating support for the leader’s desire to establish law and order on the one hand while at the same time insisting that the march of democracy must continue, and that the use of force could not be a solution to the country’s problems.
  • The country I am speaking of is not Egypt in 2011 but Iran in 1979.
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  • For Egyptians, the history of the Iranian Revolution should serve as a warning. In 1978, Ayatollah Khomeini hid his true intentions—namely the creation of a despotic rule of the clerics—behind the mantle of democracy.
  • For over a century, Egypt, like Iran, has been a bellwether state for the entire region. The arrival of freedom to Egypt would therefore put the Iranian mullahs on the defensive.
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    "After days of unrest, after declaring martial law in some of the country's main cities, the authoritarian leader gave a much anticipated television speech. His tone was repentant. He promised change and reform. The people wanted democracy and he promised to bend to their wishes. "
Matt Warren

Obama's "Shah Problem" - 0 views

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    "President Barack Obama has a "Shah problem" in Egypt. Recent events in Egypt recall the street protests of 1978 in Tehran when President Jimmy Carter had to decide whether to remain loyal to the Pahlavi regime, a long-standing American-backed dictatorship-or whether the time had come to abandon the Shah and support a popular uprising demanding human rights and democracy. Carter tried to have it both ways, modulating his support for the Shah, calling for political liberalization, and warning the Shah against the use of state violence against unarmed protesters. Obama seems to be following the same script, and the results may well turn out to be equally fraught with unintended consequences. "
Matt Warren

The Egyptian Unrest: A Special Report - 0 views

  • Unlike their CSF counterparts, the demonstrators demanding Mubarak’s exit from the political scene largely welcomed the soldiers. Despite Mubarak’s refusal to step down Jan. 28, the public’s positive perception of the military, seen as the only real gateway to a post-Mubarak Egypt, remained.
  • The media will focus on the concept of reformers staging a revolution in the name of democracy and human rights. These may well have brought numerous demonstrators into the streets, but revolutions, including this one, are made up of many more actors than the liberal voices on Facebook and Twitter.
  • There is more to these demonstrations than meets the eye.
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  • As the Iranian Revolution of 1979 taught, the ideology and composition of protesters can wind up having very little to do with the political forces that end up in power.
  • The important thing to remember is that the Egyptian military, since the founding of the modern republic in 1952, has been the guarantor of regime stability.
  • The standing theory is that the military, as the guarantor of the state, will manage the current crisis. But the military is not a monolithic entity. It cannot shake its history, and thus cannot dismiss the threat of a colonel’s coup in this shaky transition.
  • The history of the modern Egyptian republic haunts Egypt’s generals today. Though long suppressed, an Islamist strand exists amongst the junior ranks of Egypt’s modern military.
  • But there remains a deep-seated fear among the military elite that the historic opening could well include a cabal of colonels looking to address a long-subdued grievance against the state, particularly its foreign policy vis-à-vis the United States and Israel.
  • Signs of such a coup scenario have not yet surfaced. The army is still a disciplined institution with chain of command, and many likely fear the utter chaos that would ensue should the military establishment rupture.
  • The United States, Israel and others will thus be doing what they can behind the scenes to shape the new order in Cairo, but they face limitations in trying to preserve a regional stability that has existed since 1978. The fate of Egypt lies in the ability of the military to not only manage the streets and the politicians, but also itself.
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    "Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak remains the lifeblood of the demonstrators, who still number in the tens of thousands in downtown Cairo and in other major cities, albeit on a lesser scale."
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