Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Mideast Media Sampler 10/11/2011

From DG:
1) Blaming the military council

Editors of the Washington Post: Egypt's delaying tactic
There’s little doubt that the transition to democracy is in danger. But the fault lies not with protesting Copts, Islamic fundamentalists or others who have been organizing and agitating for change in Cairo, but with the military regime. The 24 senior officers on the ruling council have repeatedly said that they wish to hand over power to civilians as soon as possible. But they keep extending their time:
Having at first promised to carry out a transition by last month, they now are talking about a timetable that would keep them in office for at least a year, and maybe much longer. While they linger, the generals misrule. They have subjected thousands of civilians to unfair military trials, intimidated the media and spooked tourists and foreign investors with erratic economic decisions, including the rejection of much-needed foreign loans. They issue laws and even constitutional amendments, then abruptly change them. They have failed to protect Christian churches and the Israeli embassy, which was sacked by a mob of thugs as police stood by. They then cite such outbreaks of violence as justification for still more repression — including the extension of the previous regime’s autocratic emergency law.
Yes there's something disturbing about the behavior of Egypt's military. But once the military council surrenders power, there's no reason to assume that democracy will prevail. While the Muslim Brotherhood might not achieve power on its own, it will influence how Egypt is run and will use its first election as basis for expanding its influence and power. However the military council is manipulating the foment for its own purposes, it appears that the attacks on the Copts come from Islamists.

2) The Blair switch project

Though it doesn't seem to appear in either the New York Times or Washington Post, a number of bloggers have picked up the story that the PLO is unhappy with Tony Blair and want him replaced as envoy of the Quartet. What I didn't get is why Blair and why now? While Blair defended President Obama's call for a return to the 1967 lines more recently he had the gall to question the Palestinians' unilateral statehood bid at the UN.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair is an infuriating character. Just when you think you have got him neatly categorized as a pretentious, self-seeking political wrecker, he does something right and brave. Maybe he has acted for no more noble a motive than consideration for his American royalties and lecture fees, but anyway he has stood up and unequivocally opposed Mahmoud Abbas's bid for full recognition of a Palestinian state at the UN. "You can pass whatever resolution you like at the United Nations or the Security Council, it doesn't actually deliver you a state on the ground in the West Bank and Gaza, and if you don't have a negotiation, whatever you do at the UN is going to be deeply confrontational," Blair, who is the international community's official Middle East representative, wasquoted as saying.
Xinhau News describes the situation like this:
The Palestinians have strongly slammed Blair for his support to Israel's demands to resume the peace talks with the Palestinians. The Palestinian leadership insists that any direct or indirect peace talks with Israel must be based on two major conditions, a full Israeli cessation of settlement construction and a recognition of a Palestinian state on the 1967 territories.
The lack of negotiations is not because of anything Israel did or did not do. It's the because the Palestinians are insisting on preconditions before returning to talks. The crisis, if it is one, can be resolved by bringing pressure on the Palestinians to drop the preconditions. It's amazing that the Palestinians preconditions aren't bigger news.
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