The Middle East Channel

Attacks target security forces in Egypt a day after deadly clashes

Gunmen launched attacks in Egypt Monday a day after clashes in Cairo killed an estimated 53 people. Outside the Suez Canal city of Ismailiya, gunmen targeted an army patrol killing five soldiers. Additionally, a massive car bomb exploded in the southern Sinai town of Al-Tour outside a security headquarters. The bombing killed an estimated five ...

AHMED GAMEL/AFP/Getty Images
AHMED GAMEL/AFP/Getty Images

Gunmen launched attacks in Egypt Monday a day after clashes in Cairo killed an estimated 53 people. Outside the Suez Canal city of Ismailiya, gunmen targeted an army patrol killing five soldiers. Additionally, a massive car bomb exploded in the southern Sinai town of Al-Tour outside a security headquarters. The bombing killed an estimated five people and wounded 40 others. Also, assailants fired rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) at communication satellite dishes in the Maadi neighborhood of Cairo reportedly causing damage to a satellite dish. Meanwhile, calm was mostly restored in Cairo on Monday after Sunday’s deadly clashes between security forces and supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi. Protests came as thousands of Egyptians in Cairo’s Tahrir Square celebrated the 40th anniversary of the 1973 Arab-Israeli war. In addition to those killed, 271 people were reported injured, with most of the casualties being Morsi supporters. More demonstrations are expected throughout the week.

Syria

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has lauded Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for so far complying with a chemical weapons disarmament deal. Kerry’s rare praise for the Syrian government came after a team of chemical weapons experts reportedly began overseeing the dismantling of Syria’s chemical arms stockpile. After talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Indonesia, Kerry said, "The process has begun in record time and we are appreciative for the Russian cooperation and obviously for the Syrian compliance." On Sunday, an official from the joint U.N. and Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) team said, "The fist day of destruction and disabling is over," continuing that Syrian forces began "destroying munitions such as missile warheads and aerial bombs and disabling mobile and static mixing and filling units." However, Lavrov cautioned that the Syrian opposition and states in the region are responsible for making sure Syria’s chemical weapons do not fall into the hands of non-state actors. The United States and Russia additionally urged for the United Nations to set a date for mid-November for a peace conference on Syria to be held in Geneva. Meanwhile, the U.N. has projected that two million more Syrians will flee the war torn country in 2014, and over two million more people will become internally displaced.

Headlines

  • U.S. Secretary of State Kerry has defended the capture of suspected al Qaeda leader Anas al-Libi in Libya on Saturday, who U.S. officials say is being held and interrogated on a Navy ship in the Mediterranean Sea.
  • Attacks in Iraq killed 33 people on Sunday, including 13 children who died when a suicide truck bomber hit an elementary school in the northern Shiite Turkmen village of Qabak, outside of Tal Afar.
  • A German Embassy security guard was killed Sunday outside a market in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa, meanwhile armed tribesmen kidnapped a UNICEF employee in a northwestern suburb.
  • Tunisia’s ruling Islamist party and parties in the largely secular opposition agreed to the appointment of an interim government in a deal aimed at ending a months long political crisis.
  • Kerry has appeared to reject Iran’s request for world powers to develop new proposals on its nuclear program for talks expected to resume next week.
  • Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, religious scholar and spiritual leader of Israel’s ultra-Orthodox Shas party, died Monday in Jerusalem at the age of 93.

Arguments and Analysis

Is this the end of the failed Muslim Brotherhood project?‘ (Hussein Ibish, The National)

"In several Arab societies, Salafists are either outflanking Brotherhood groups or reaping the benefits of the Brotherhood’s crises.

But there is an important distinction: the main regional financers of the Brotherhood movement actually want them to dominate as many governments as possible in Arab republics. States and wealthy individuals who finance Salafists use them to harass the Brotherhood and to project power. But the primary movers behind the regional Salafist movements don’t actually want to see Salafist governments in Arab republics.

If the ideology and practices of more moderate Brotherhood parties have proven unworkable and popularly unacceptable in power, that can only apply far more intensively to Salafist groups. The plausibility of Salafist rule in any post-dictatorship Arab society is, for those two reasons, virtually nil.

This may not be the end of the Muslim Brotherhood but its region-wide crisis is so severe that significant ideological and practical adaptation will be unavoidable for those flexible enough to learn any lessons. The Moroccan and Tunisian branches are already unhappily compromising to survive.

But the Muslim Brotherhood may be dying at least in the sense that what ultimately emerges from the current wreckage will be unrecognisably different. Only a radical change in fortunes across the region is likely to forestall such a process."

A Nonviolent Muslim Brotherhood?‘ (Ibrahim el-Houdaiby, Middle East Institute)

"The current crisis is unprecedented in the Brotherhood’s history. Not even comparable to the oppression of the 1950s and 1960s, the swift move from prison to palace and back will have a tremendous impact on the organization. Most significantly, it is expected to lead to several resignations, dismissals, and splits. Instead of threatening organizational unity, however, these departures will lead to the reemergence of an organization skeptical and critical of the surrounding society, with significantly high levels of discipline, an internal organizational focus at the cost of political and social engagement, and minimal — if any — tolerance of internal critical voices. In other words, the organization, currently on hold, will reorganize itself along Qutbi lines, and other ideological tendencies will be suppressed, marginalized, or completely eliminated. In fact, the reemergence of a context of oppression provides the perfect environment for organizational unity. Also, if the organization remains peaceful, it enables the leadership to escape due questioning and responsibility for the failures of the past two years. And so even while upholding its principles of nonviolent engagement, the Brotherhood will become a more extreme organization."

Israel, the Palestinians and the one-state illusion‘ (Jeremy Ben-Ami, Los Angeles Times)

"We ought to be intensely thankful that the majority of Israelis and Palestinians agree on the solution to the problem and have vowed to bring it about peacefully. When all around them they see chaos and inhumanity, when an entire region has fallen into an abyss of barbarism, their negotiations, rebooted in the last few months, offer a different paradigm much closer to the example of the Czechs and Slovaks than to the Serbs and Bosnians.

Make no mistake: Getting there is going to be tough. The parties need all the help and support they can get from the United States and the rest of the international community. They need imaginative mediation and patient diplomacy backed by firm U.S. leadership. They may well require the resolve of an American president willing to step in at the right moment with a plan that both sides can accept.

What nobody needs are delusional visions of one-state fantasists whose remedies have no connection with the real world. We live in an era of nation states and, unfortunately, also in an era of ethnic wars. We seem to be becoming more tribal and more sectarian, not less. We may feel that this is not a good thing, but it is reality."

–Mary Casey & Joshua Haber

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