Archive for Egypt

Hajj Ball

Technically, not the hajj—but how could I resist?

With the war-battered Gaza Strip’s borders closed, thousands of people have been shut out of a Muslim pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia because they cannot leave the sealed territory.

Some 7,500 Gazans have sought to travel to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, for the minor umrah pilgrimage but have been turned away because Egypt restricts movement in and out of the coastal enclave.

Egypt has shut its border with the Gaza Strip since Oct. 24, citing security concerns in its northern Sinai Peninsula. It has opened it only intermittently for students and patients seeking medical care.

“I wait hour by hour. We feel every day that passes without leaving as though it’s a year,” said Fares Hayek, 80, who is among those waiting to make the pilgrimage. He applied in November along with his wife, children and grandchildren.

Boy, that’s tough. I’m tempted to label Egypt an apartheid state (since no one else will), and refer to Gaza as a township (Soweto-on-Sea), but let’s read a little further:

An Egyptian security official said that the closure is upon orders from President Abdel-Fattah Sisi, who said he will only open the border if it is controlled by the Palestinian Authority. Despite an agreement last year to form a Palestinian unity government, Hamas remains in control of Gaza and the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority wields little influence over the coastal strip.

Mahmoud Habash, an adviser to on religious affairs, blamed the pilgrims delay on the security situation in the Sinai Peninsula. Egypt has accused militants of using Gaza for their operations.

“We agreed with the Egyptians that the first priority is the safety of the travelers and the safety of the Egyptian teams at the border crossing, and when the safety conditions permit, there will be no problem for them to go,” he said.

See? There you go. Egypt is penning up the Gazan Arabs out of an abundance of caution, a surfeit of love. It’s really quite touching when you look at it from the pan-Arab perspective.

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Scoot Over, Israel

Make room in the woodshed:

The Obama administration was given multiple chances Wednesday to endorse a longtime ally’s airstrikes on America’s biggest enemy at the moment, the so-called Islamic State. Over and over again, Obama’s aides declined to back Egypt’s military operation against ISIS. It’s another sign of the growing strain between the United States and Egypt, once one of its closest friends in the Middle East.

This shouldn’t be a complete surprise; Cairo, after all, didn’t tell Washington about its strikes on the ISIS hotbed of Derna, Libya. Still, Wednesday’s disconnect was jarring. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest passed on a reporter’s question about an endorsement of Egypt’s growing campaign against ISIS. So did State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.

“We are neither condemning nor condoning” the Egyptian strikes, is all one U.S. official would tell The Daily Beast.

“The Egyptian military, in particular, is very frustrated with us,” one U.S. government official explained to The Daily Beast. “It is mutual frustration.”

At a briefing with reporters Wednesday, Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby called the relationship with Egypt “complicated.”

The Obama regime hates Egypt for opposing ISIS, and hates Israel for opposing Iran. I’m pretty good at describing what this cabal does, but I haven’t a clue as to why. What’s “complicated” about bombing the [bleep] out of ISIS? What’s not to condone? Should Egypt have dropped the want ads with its bombs?

The only logical answer is that they are literally anti-American.

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Israeli Security Believes The Palestinian Authority May Collapse Soon

In the Age of Obama, The Caliphate will take over the Middle East. Who will replace the PA? Hamas?

This coming Monday IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz will end his four year term and will be replaced by Maj.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot. Waiting on Eisenkot’s desk are some chilling security assessments including the potential risk that the security situation in the West Bank will deteriorate in the near future.

Over the past weeks, in the context of Gantz’s farewells to the various IDF divisions, the outgoing Chief of Staff spoke again and again about the fragile security reality in the West Bank. Gantz even spoke of the influence of politics on the territory, probably in reference to the upcoming Israeli elections and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ unilateral moves in international bodies.

Another cause of the “heating up” of the West Bank is Israel’s decision not to transfer tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority in response to its ICC membership – a move that is bringing about the collapse of the Palestinian economy.

Against this background, the army has told the government that at any given moment the Palestinian Authority can collapse.

In one of the scenarios that the IDF presented, a small localized security incident, like an altercation between settlers and Palestinians, or the throwing of a Molotov cocktail could quickly escalate to rioting in the Galilee and the Triangle area. With the weakened Palestinian Authority a situation like this is liable to lead to terrorist organizations taking control of the West Bank.

More at the link. Obama and the State Dept. will blame it on Netanyahu, but it is their lame policy which has brought us to this. They encouraged the PA to reject negotiation and compromise, encouraged them to be angry about apartment buildings, etc., and the end result is going to be a terror state that encompasses almost all of the Middle East. It is a weird day when you realize that Egypt is saner than Washington.

– Aggie

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Egypt, We Have a Problem

If you can keep your head while all about you are losing theirs:

An Islamic-State-linked group beheaded 10 men accused of spying for Israel and Egypt in a gruesome video posted online, Egyptian media reported Tuesday.

The video shows terrorists from Welayat Sinai [Supporters of Sinai], which was formerly known as Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, decapitate the men, then dump their bodies on a road in northern Sinai.

Before the beheading, the accused were also made to confess on camera that they were collaborators with the Israeli Mossad and the Egyptian military.

Hold a magnifying glass up to the screen and you might see tiny little Israel surrounded by subhuman savages. That’s not me talking. That’s their actions speaking for them.

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How to Handle Border Security

Egypt offers one model:

Egypt began work Thursday on doubling the width of a buffer zone along the border with the Gaza Strip to prevent terrorists infiltrating from the Palestinian enclave, security officials said.

The buffer was initially planned to be 500 meters (546 yards) wide, but is now being expanded by another 500 meters.

Much to our disappointment, Egypt is using its own land, not Gaza’s, for the buffer zone.

This, by contrast, is how Israel does it:

Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home) and his staff have implemented a new program to rebuild and expand Gaza Belt region communities Wednesday, to the tune of some 134.5 million shekel ($34.2 million).

The expansion program is designed to help more families slowly settle the region, which was hit hardest by Operation Protective Edge over the summer. At the height of the war, up to 80% of Gaza Belt community families had fled inland due to the ongoing barrage of rocket fire, sparking concerns over the region’s future.

Despite the war, the communities near Gaza “continue to grow thanks to the wonderful residents of the area,” Ariel stated. “We ask for help to increase settlement in these communities and execute the government’s decision. Our aims our clear: more and more people are building there.”

Israelis continually amaze me. Egypt builds a mote and relocates thousands. Israel, which suffers much more from Arab terrorists than Egypt does, rebuilds and holds a block party. What a remarkable people.

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My Favorite Arab Caudillo

Against slim competition, it must be said:

Egypt has in recent days begun the second stage of creating a buffer zone between the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip.

The current zone is being expanded from 500 meters to a kilometer, which means the destruction of some 1,200 homes in Egyptian Rafah. However, The Times of Israel has learned, there will be additional stages, which will ultimately expand the buffer zone to between 1,500 and 2,000 meters. The plan will result in the eviction of hundreds of families from the area, initially to El-Arish and in the future to New Rafah, a suburb of sorts that is to be built next to the current Rafah, and New Ismailiya, which will be built near the existing city on the banks of the Suez Canal.

My only regret is that Sisi is evicting Egyptian families and appropriating Egyptian land. If your problem is with Gaza, you need less Gaza, not less Egypt.

But the greater point is still instructive. One simply cannot live in peace with Gaza as your neighbor: Gaza won’t allow it. Egypt’s solution is to create an Apartheid State, complete with a moat over a mile wide.

By the army’s estimates, the operation is bearing fruit, and has forced dozens of jihadis to flee the Sinai for Libya. There has also been a sharp decline in terrorism in the Sinai, and what activity remains is concentrated in the northeastern corner of the peninsula, in Rafah and Sheikh Zaid.

There’s your model, Israel. Never let it be said that Arabs can’t teach you something.

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Arab Spring a Big, Stinking Pile of Failure

Fifty million refugees can’t be wrong!

The two “ghost ships” discovered sailing towards the Italian coast last week with hundreds of migrants – but no crew – on board are just the latest symptom of what experts consider to be the world’s largest wave of mass-migration since the end of the second world war.

Wars in Syria, Libya and Iraq, severe repression in Eritrea, and spiralling instability across much of the Arab world have all contributed to the displacement of around 16.7 million refugees worldwide.

A further 33.3 million people are “internally displaced” within their own war-torn countries, forcing many of those originally from the Middle East to cross the lesser evil of the Mediterranean in increasingly dangerous ways, all in the distant hope of a better life in Europe.

“These numbers are unprecedented,” said Leonard Doyle, spokesman for the International Organisation for Migration. “In terms of refugees and migrants, nothing has been seen like this since world war two, and even then [the flow of migration] was in the opposite direction.”

If I read his point correctly, the “displaced persons” to whom he refers are those Jews who survived a nearly-global effort at their extermination. But let’s not dwell on that now.

“We know people who died – they used to live with us,” said Qassim, a Syrian refugee in Egypt who now wants to reach Europe. “But we will try again to cross the sea because there’s no life for us Syrians here.”

In Egypt, up to 300,000 refugees from the Syrian war were initially welcomed with open arms. But after Cairo’s sudden regime change in summer 2013, the atmosphere turned drastically, leading to rampant xenophobia against Syrians and increased arrests and detentions of those who, for understandable reasons, did not carry the correct residency paperwork.

The situation is even worse in Jordan and in Lebanon, which now houses more than 1 million Syrian refugees – more than a fifth of the country’s total population.

Those cheerleaders out there who told us that the so-called Arab Spring was the dawning of democracy…what have you to say for yourselves? Like everyone else, I looked at those young attractive Arabs in Tahriri Square—but I also looked at the dark hordes massing behind them. I couldn’t have imagined it being this bad, but I knew it wasn’t going to be good.

We in the West may be shallow and fatuous, but we can survive simple-minded liberal pieties (if only just). Egypt can’t. They went from strongman (Mubarak) to strongman (al-Sisi) with just a spot of bother (Morsi and the MoBros) in between. And they should count themselves lucky.

Don’t get me wrong: General al-Sisi is not my ideal leader. But he may be Egypt’s.

Indeed, he may be the ideal leader for the entire Arab World:

Many have called for a reformation of Islam, but for the leader of the largest Arab nation to do so has world-changing implications.

Here are the key parts as translated on Raymond Ibrahim’s blog:

I am referring here to the religious clerics. We have to think hard about what we are facing—and I have, in fact, addressed this topic a couple of times before. It’s inconceivable that the thinking that we hold most sacred should cause the entire umma [Islamic world] to be a source of anxiety, danger, killing and destruction for the rest of the world. Impossible!

That thinking—I am not saying “religion” but “thinking”—that corpus of texts and ideas that we have sacralized over the years, to the point that departing from them has become almost impossible, is antagonizing the entire world. It’s antagonizing the entire world!

Is it possible that 1.6 billion people [Muslims] should want to kill the rest of the world’s inhabitants—that is 7 billion—so that they themselves may live? Impossible!

I am saying these words here at Al Azhar, before this assembly of scholars and ulema—Allah Almighty be witness to your truth on Judgment Day concerning that which I’m talking about now.

All this that I am telling you, you cannot feel it if you remain trapped within this mindset. You need to step outside of yourselves to be able to observe it and reflect on it from a more enlightened perspective.

I say and repeat again that we are in need of a religious revolution. You, imams, are responsible before Allah. The entire world, I say it again, the entire world is waiting for your next move… because this umma is being torn, it is being destroyed, it is being lost—and it is being lost by our own hands.

“Boo-yah!” as the late Stuart Scott would say. “Ain’t that a kick in the head,” as Mark Steyn would quote Sammy Cahn. But you need to be a strongman—preferably a general—to say it.

I wish our metrosexual-in-chief had.

PS: I would not be truthful if I did not credit the one success of the Arab Spring: its source, Tunisia:

Tunisia is rightly hailed as the lone success story of the Arab Spring: the only country that has threaded a path from the uprisings of 2011 to genuine multiparty democracy today. Yet the future of freedom in Tunisia is far from assured. With the election of a new parliament and president in recent weeks, the most important experiment in Arab democracy is entering a difficult and potentially perilous new phase — one in which greater U.S. support and attention are urgently needed.

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Cover Blown

While the European Union considers Hamass as harmless as the Elks or the Webelos, Hamass considers its options:

According to the reports, Hamas has acknowledged the limited efficacy of its mid- and longer-range rockets, many of which were shot down by Israel’s Iron Dome defense system during the war, inflicting very limited civilian casualties. Meanwhile, Hamas has recognized the deadliness of mortar shells, which fall short of Iron Dome’s range.

One new approach that Hamas has been considering in an effort to extend its effective range is to launch large volleys of rockets that would challenge Iron Dome’s ability to fire interceptors in rapid succession, the reports said. It has also been conducting tests, lobbing dozens of rockets into the Mediterranean Sea in recent weeks, according to Ynet, which cited Palestinian Gaza sources in its report.

Is that how a crushed people in a devastated territory behave? Why would the international community reward an Islamofascist entity that starts wars, targets civilians (its own as well as Israeli), and earns the loathing of its big brother, Egypt?

Egyptian military troops have started to inform residents in Rafah that they must evacuate another 500 meters from the border with Gaza, indicting the beginning of the second phase in creating a buffer zone between Egypt and Gaza.

Residents of Rafah have begun to look for alternative housing in el Arish and Sheikh Zuwayed,

An earlier decision ordered residents to clear 500 meters from the border, following this order, the total area to be evacuated will reach 1 kilometer.

The government hopes the buffer zone will isolate the militants who say they attack the security forces in retaliation for the government crackdown on Morsi supporters in which at least 1,400 people have been killed in street clashes.

The authorities also hope that the buffer zone will neutralize hundreds of illegal underground tunnels connecting the Egyptian side of Rafah with Gaza.

Such tunnels are often used for smuggling weapons and militants, and the army says it has already destroyed more than 1,600 of them.

My only disappointment is that Egypt is using its own territory to build a moat around Gaza. I had previously congratulated them on seizing Gaza’s own land for that purpose.

And just for the sake of completeness:

A rocket launched from the Gaza Strip exploded in open territory near the Eshkol Regional Council on Friday around noon, the IDF confirmed.

But when I asked above “why would the international community reward an Islamofascist entity”, I was being rhetorical:

Two months after donors pledged $5.4 billion to help rebuild Gaza after the war between Israel and Hamas, Palestinian, UN and other officials say barely two percent of the money has been transferred.

The conference in Cairo had been hailed as a success, with Qatar promising $1 billion, Saudi Arabia $500 million and the United States and the European Union a combined $780 million in various forms of assistance.

Half was expected to go to rebuilding houses and infrastructure in Gaza destroyed during seven weeks of fighting, and the rest to support the Palestinian budget.

But of the total, only $100 million or so has been received, according to UN and other officials. While the EU and the United States have accelerated some funding that was already in the pipeline, very few new pledges have come to fruition.

So, the Arab states welsh on their pledges, made at a lavish, pointless conference, leaving the US and EU to pick up the tab—with some, most, or all of the money going toward rearming a group even Egypt treats as rabid, as the EU seeks to delist them as a terrorist organization.

And you say I’m cynical.

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Other Evictions You May Have Missed

Hey Amnesty, thanks for reading us, but…where’s our Hat Tip?

Egypt has forcibly evicted an estimated 1,165 families in Rafah so that it can clear a buffer zone by the Gaza border, charged the human rights group Amnesty International, which is concerned that additional homes will be demolished in the coming weeks.

“The scale of the forced evictions has been astonishing; the Egyptian authorities have thrown more than 1,000 families out of their homes in just a matter of days, flouting international and national law,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

“Shocking scenes have emerged of homes in Rafah being bulldozed, bombed, with entire buildings reduced to piles of rubble and families forcibly evicted,” said Sahraoui on Thursday.

Give me a break with that “shocking” nonsense. Bulldozing and bombing buildings to rubble is always shocking, therefore never so. You sound like a bunch of sissies.

We’ve covered this story for a couple of weeks, though our coverage as been significantly more positive than AI’s.

Egypt has destroyed some 800 homes in November in response to an attack on one of its military checkpoints in north Sinai on October 24, in which 33 soldiers were killed. The armed group Ansar Bait al-Maqdishas claimed responsibility for this attack, Amnesty said.

Days after the attack, on October 29, Egypt’s Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab issued a legal mandate to create of a buffer zone by Rafah and called for the area to be evacuated.

Clearing a buffer zone to stop Hamas from building infiltration and smuggling tunnels from Gaza into Egypt is one of the steps Egypt is taking to protect its armed forces from attacks by militant groups, Amnesty said.

At least 238 members of the security forces have been killed in northern Sinai since 3 July 2013, according state media reports.

Egypt has a right to take security measures, but it must do so within the bounds of international human rights law, Amnesty said.

The forced evictions have ignored these laws, said Amnesty, which explained that residents were not given adequate notice, proper compensation and alternative housing.

What rights? Gaza is run by Hamass, a criminal and terrorist organization. It must be isolated. When it isn’t, people—Egyptian, Israeli, Gazan—die.

Besides:

In a November 20th interview on France i24, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi defended the home demolitions and explained that the local population had been notified.

“Meetings have been organized in order to compensate them and to rebuild a new city of Rafah,” Sisi said.

“In our struggle against terrorism, we always tried to do our utmost to spare the human lives of civilians. We always respected human rights,” Sisi said.

In a related story of displaced people:

History was made on Sunday, November 30, when for the first time in the annals of the state, official recognition was given to Jewish refugees from Arab lands and Iran.

The event, hosted by President Reuven Rivlin at his official residence, was the continuum of legislation that was passed by the Knesset in June of this year designating November 30 as the national day of commemoration of the plight of Jewish refugees from Arab lands and Iran. The date was significant in that it commemorates the day after the anniversary of the November 29, 1947 United Nations resolution on the partition of Palestine, which led to an immediate flare up of anti-Zionist action and policy among Arab states, resulting in the killing, persecution, humiliation, oppression and expulsion of Jews, the sequestration of Jewish property and a war against the nascent State of Israel.

In 1948 close to a million Jews lived in Arab lands. Some were massacred in pogroms. Most fled or were expelled between 1948 and 1967. In 1948 there were 260,000 Jews in Morocco. Today there are less than 3,000. In the same time frame, the Jewish population of Algeria declined from 135,000 to zero, in Tunisia from 90,000 to a thousand, in Libya from 40,000 to zero, in Egypt from 75,000 to less than one hundred, in Iraq from 125,000 to zero, in Yemen from 45,000 to approximately 200, in Syria from 27,000 to 100, and in Lebanon from 10,000 in the 1950s to less than 100.

Jewish population in Arab lands is now 4,500 out of 1948’s 1,000,000—a 99.55% eradication of their former number. And they have the chutzpah to accuse Israel of genocide.

We trust these two stories have been helpful in understanding the region. You’re welcome.

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Free Hosni!

Where does Hosni Mubarak go to get his reputation back?

In what many Egyptians called the trial of the century, a Cairo judge dismissed charges against former President Hosni Mubarak for the deaths of hundreds of protesters.

The court has also found Mubarak not guilty of corruption Saturday.

Mubarak, who ruled Egypt for almost 30 years, was accused of “inciting, arranging and assisting to kill peaceful protesters” during the country’s popular uprising in 2011. The 86-year-old had pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Saturday’s rulings capped Mubarak’s second trial for the same charges. He was already convicted of helping kill protesters and was sentenced to life in prison in 2012, but was later granted a new trial.

Mubarak wasn’t the only defendant in the courtroom. His former Interior Minister Habib El-Adly and six aides were also trial for the deaths of 239 protesters in 2011. All seven of them were acquitted.

Get up, lazybones! You got a country to run. Well, maybe not:

Though Mubarak was not convicted on any charges Saturday, he still won’t go free anytime soon.

In May, a Cairo court sentenced Mubarak to three years in prison for embezzlement. His sons Gamal and Alaa were sentenced to four years each on the same charge.

All three were convicted of embezzling $18 million that was allocated for the renovation of presidential palaces. The Mubaraks have insisted they are not guilty.

Don’t bet against the Mubaraks. They have a history of beating the rap—and protestors, Muslim Brothers, African refugees, etc.

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Last Turkey Before Thanksgiving

We’ll post what we can while we prepare the fatted bird, but couldn’t resist this one.

Way to go, Egypt!

Egypt opened the Rafah border crossing Wednesday to allow thousands of stranded Palestinians to return to Gaza but the frontier will remain closed to traffic going the other way, Palestinian and Egyptian border officials said.

One of Gaza’s vital gateways to the outside world, the Rafah crossing was shut on Oct. 25 after Islamist militants in Egypt’s adjacent Sinai region killed 33 members of the security forces in some of the worst anti-state violence since Islamist president Mohamad Mursi was toppled in July 2013.

The month-long closure marooned around 6,000 Palestinians in Egypt or third countries, while around a thousand people in Gaza are desperate to get out for medical treatment in Egypt, officials in Islamist-ruled Gaza say.

Rafah is the only major border crossing into the impoverished Gaza Strip, a narrow, densely populated enclave on the Mediterranean coast, that does not go through Israel, which blockades the territory.

Oh really? Some blockade:

Twenty-eight trucks of cement entered the battered Gaza Strip Tuesday in only the second delivery of building materials for the private sector since a 50-day summer war, an official said.

Raed Fatouh, the Palestinian Authority official in charge of the entry of goods through the Kerem Shalom crossing, said 28 trucks, each carrying 40 tons of cement, had crossed into the enclave.

It was the first delivery of building materials for the private sector since Oct. 14, when 75 trucks entered Gaza, carrying 1,300 tons of material – 15 trucks of cement, 10 of metal and 50 of gravel.

“This is the biggest delivery of cement since the war ended,” Fatouh told AFP, referring to the seven-week conflict between Israel and Hamas which ended with a truce on Aug. 26.

“But it is not enough, it is only a tiny amount for the reconstruction.”

You wouldn’t need any of it if you didn’t go around starting wars, dip[bleep]. You’re lucky not to starve.

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The UN, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International Could Not be Reached for Comment

But we’ll keep trying:

Ten civilians were killed overnight during fighting between the Egyptian army and Islamist militants in Sinai, near Egypt’s border with Gaza, where the military has launched a crackdown in recent weeks, security and medical sources said on Wednesday.

At least three of the casualties were children and three were women, the medical sources said. The victims were killed in their home by two mortar shells fired by militants during a night-time curfew, security sources said.

When will our State Department condemn these senseless killings? When will Jen Psycho take a # selfie? Why is it only news when Israel regrettably and regretfully takes civilian lives in its battles for self-defense?

These are all rhetorical questions.

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