Monday, February 06, 2012

The Middle East Sampler 2/6/12: Muslim Brotherhood's Mixed Message On The West

From DG:
1) Muslim Brotherhood: West must help Egypt; Opposition: Western help is killing us 

The Washington Post reports Muslim Brotherhood official says West is neglecting Egypt:
Khairat El-Shater, deputy supreme guide of the Islamist movement that controls half the Egyptian parliament, said this week that the United States and Europe are neglecting Egypt at their peril a year after a popular uprising deposed a key U.S. ally in former president Hosni Mubarak. 
“The democratic transition in Egypt is hanging in the balance,” Shater said this week at the Brotherhood’s headquarters in a Cairo suburb. “We strongly advise the Americans and the Europeans to support Egypt during this critical period as compensation for the many years they supported a brutal dictatorship.” 
Shater’s appeal was extraordinary, coming as it did from a group the United States had long kept at arm’s length out of respect for Mubarak, who persecuted the Brotherhood as a threat to his secular rule. It was only two months ago that high-level U.S. officials engaged in rare formal meetings with senior Brotherhood members, many of whom regard Washington warily for its unstinting support of Mubarak.
The article goes on to say that what spurred these remarks were reports that the United States might cut its annual aid to Egypt. The article does not say that any aid to Egypt has actually been cut, no matter how anti-democratically Egypt's authorities may be acting.

By the way, Shater is described as "shrewd pragmatist." 

However, an article appearing in the newspaper of an opposition party, Al Wafd, doesn't want American help. The article, translated by MEMRI, accuses the U.S. Navy Medical Research Unit, a research facility to fight disease in Egypt, of doing just the opposite:
"This incident raised questions, which remained unanswered, over whether American hands in NAMRU were behind the increase in infertility, mental retardation, and disability among Egyptians born in recent years... as well as [instances of] impotence. [This, considering] the dangerous genetic information that NAMRU has collected on the Egyptians, especially patients in the Al-'Abbasia Hospital, and its ability to disrupt [the Egyptians'] natural genes and immune systems; [and also considering the fact] that it sends [Egypt] medicines, seeds, and fodder for animals, and is involved in all experiments [conducted in Egypt] in the fields of agriculture, livestock, water, food, etc... 
"NAMRU's fields of research are far removed from Egyptian oversight. In addition to research on AIDS, foot and mouth disease, hemophilia, avian flu, Rift Valley fever, Chikungunya fever – caused by mosquitoes – tuberculosis, Lumpyskin disease, and others, it is also responsible for the vaccinations against these diseases, [including] the vaccination of animals and birds, as well as for researching [the diseases] and methods of eliminating them. All that is left is to imagine how dangerously simple it would be to use all this [information] against the Egyptian people, in accordance with America's will, which has Israel standing forcefully behind it."
Barry Rubin observes:
Here are some of the implications:
--An American attempt to help Egypt (while also shielding itself from disease) is portrayed as a harmful and aggressive activity. 
--The priority for the nation is to fight foreign conspiracies not to fix domestic shortcomings.
--Since internal problems are blamed on outsiders they are thus made impossible to solve. Science and modernity are viewed not as solutions but with suspicion as attempt to destroy one’s own society through imperialist takeover, social transformation, and atheism (or Christianity imposed on Islam). 
--If Americans are so evil then it makes sense for people to become terrorists and to slay or drive out the horrible villains. Isn't it reasonable to slay Americans in revenge or in self-defense? Now important Egyptians are also claiming that U.S. embassy officials are running over Egyptians with their cars (apparently U.S. embassy vehicles were stolen by criminals).
How can you help people who both demand and condemn your help?

2) Will he or won't he? 

Over the years Mahmoud Abbas has stated that he is quitting numerous times. Meanwhile his on again-off again talks with Hamas seem to be on again. If these reports are true, he intends to stay in power as Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority in a unity government with Hamas (possibly in addition to remaining President).

Ma'an adds some possibilities:
Sources close to Abbas, who wished to remain anonymous, told Ma'an that the decision is not certain and that the role of prime minister could be an added burden on the President.
Other sources from the meeting said that Hamas chief Khalid Mashaal had suggested Abbas for the role of prime minister.
The New York Times reports:
The Palestinian Information Center, a news Web site closely affiliated with Hamas, reported that the two sides had reached “a preliminary agreement that Abbas take responsibility for the government in the coming phase.” Maan, an independent Palestinian news agency, also reported a proposal that would have Mr. Abbas serve as prime minister. 
The information, however, could not be immediately verified. The Palestinian news sites cited anonymous sources. Hamas officials contacted in Gaza on Sunday night did not confirm the reports. 
Previous announcements of agreements seem to have vanished in the haze. Regardless of the outcome, Abbas freely negotiates with a terrorist organization without preconditions and is widely considered a moderate; he refuses to negotiate with Israel without preconditions and Prime Minister Netanyahu is roundly condemned for not doing more to get Abbas back to negotiations.

3) The wages of UNESCO

In October of last year, UNESCO voted to accept Palestine as a full member. As reported by the New York Times in Unesco Accepts Palestinians as Full Members:
Cheers filled the hall at Unesco’s headquarters here after the vote, with one delegate shouting, “Long live Palestine!” in French. The Palestinian foreign minister, Riad al-Malki, praised the organization, saying that “this vote will help erase a tiny part of the injustice done to the Palestinian people” and that it would help protect world heritage sites in Israeli-occupied territory. 
The New York Times reported further:
The United States argues that United Nations agencies should wait for a resolution of the Palestinians’ application for full membership in the United Nations as a whole. Palestinian statehood should emerge from negotiations with Israel, not from acts by third parties or international groups, Washington argues; otherwise United Nations membership will change little for Palestinians on the ground. 
Arab diplomats say that the American position is a bit disingenuous, since Washington has maneuvered to try to prevent the Palestinians from getting the necessary 9 votes in the 15-seat Security Council, and would use its veto there if they did. The announcement on Monday by Bosnia, which currently has a seat on the Council, that it would abstain appeared to deny the Palestinians the chance for nine yes votes, making an American veto appear unnecessary.
At Unesco, though, no country has a veto. 
The American view is mangled here to make it look disingenuous. The official American view is that a Palestinian state should emerge from negotiations with Israel. Any attempt to bypass negotiations - whether within the Security Council or other UN agencies - is in opposition to American policy.

And of course, UNESCO is the source of all that is good and pure in the world, that is only opposed by Israel and the United States:
Unesco, perhaps best known for designating world heritage sites, is a major global development agency whose missions include promoting literacy, science, clean water and education, including sex education and promoting equal treatment for girls and young women. 
The United States rejoined the organization in 2003, ending a boycott that began under 1984 over charges that the organization then was corrupt, anti-Israel and anti-Western and wanted to regulate the international news media. 
The idea that UNESCO like every other UN agency is politicized by an automatic majority that opposes Israel, seems to have escaped the reporters. Now the pretense that acceptance of Palestine into UNESCO is anything other than an anti-Israel move is over. (h/t Challah Hu Akbar 
The list of sites submitted to the organization includes the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, the Old City of Nablus, Sebastiya, the ancient port of Gaza, Hisham's Palace and Tel al Sultan in Jericho, Mount Grizim, the monasteries in Judea Dessert and Rehan Forest.
Along with the list of sites under the PA's control, the Palestinians are also considering submitting heritage sites that are under Israeli control such as Qumran Caves and the Dead Sea.
Officials in Ramallah told Ynet they see nothing wrong with the PA proposing to recognize these sites on behalf of Palestine.
And for anyone who doesn't understand what's going on:
"It's very simple – according to the international law, the entire West Bank is occupied territory and therefore all of the countries who recognize a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders will support this."
Exactly. It's an effort to bypass negotiations by enlisting international agreement to support the Palestinians' demands.
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