A protester draped in an Egyptian flag shakes hands with a soldier in Cairo, at the height of the protests that toppled Hosni Mubarak.
Brotherhood changes course, fields second in command for Egypt’s president
The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood’s reversal of its earlier pledge not to field a candidate for the presidency is causing consternation among liberals and the military alike, reports Mostafa Ali of Ahram.
[T]he rise of Abul-Fotouh and Abu Ismail comes at the same time that the Brotherhood had chosen to enter into a serious a confrontation, unresolved at the moment, against the ruling military council over who has the right to form cabinets and write the constitution of the country. This has also taken place at a critical moment when the liberal minority in the Parliament, unexpectedly, managed to tap into growing popular discomfort with the Brotherhood’s rush to dominate the constituent assemble tasked with drafting the constitution, and also significant discomfort with the inability of the Brotherhood to act quickly on achieving tangible progress on issues of economic equity, chronic gas crisis, and, overall, achieving basic demands of the January 25 revolution such as retribution for the martyrs.
End, Don’t Mend, the Syrian Regime
Lee Smith of the American Interest takes the Obama administration to task for declining to arm the Syrian opposition and take an active role in Assad’s ouster.
Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and other Arab powers have also urged the White House to arm the opposition. Their reasoning is based not only on fellow-Sunni solidarity, but also on a reading of the strategic terrain. Assad is Tehran’s one Arab ally, and toppling him would greatly weaken Iran’s position, not least by cutting off Hezbollah’s main supply line across the Syrian border.
A new doctrine of intervention?
Writing in the Washington Post, Henry Kissinger poses key questions about the United States’ policy on the Middle East, post-Arab Spring.
U.S. public opinion has already recoiled from the scope of the efforts required to transform Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. Do we believe that a less explicitly strategic involvement disclaiming a U.S. national interest will make nation-buildingless complex? Do we have a preference as to which groups come to power? Or are we agnostic so long as the mechanisms are electoral? If the latter, how do we avoid fostering a new absolutism legitimized by managed plebiscites and sect-based permanent majorities? What outcomes are compatible with America’s core strategic interests in the region? Will it be possible to combine strategic withdrawal from key countries and reduced military expenditures with doctrines of universal humanitarian intervention? Discussion of these issues has been largely absent from the debate over U.S. foreign policy regarding the Arab Spring.
Administration Iran Leakfest Means Obama’s Tough Stance is Just Talk
The president has no intention of taking any military action against Iran’s nuclear program, and the leaks to that effect have only served to embolden the Tehran regime, writes Jonathan S. Tobin of Commentary Magazine.
The president has condemned “loose talk” about war with Iran and has stuck to his belief that diplomacy can find a way to beguile the Iranians to abandon their nuclear plans. But the talkative administration officials understand all too well that the president’s “window of diplomacy” never really existed. No matter how much they boast of their success in creating an international coalition to back sanctions against Iran, they know this is mere talk. The Iranians don’t believe the Europeans will, when push comes to shove, enforce crippling sanctions against them. And they have no intention of backing down.
The Islamist-secular battle is under way
There are three major battles being waging in the Arab world at the moment, writes Rami G. Khouri of the Daily Star, and the one between the religious and secular is – for now – the most pressing.
These contests will take years to play themselves out, because they comprise such complex factors as identity, allegiance, collective solidarity, access to state power and resources, and self-preservation. Some of them will endure for decades or more, as we have witnessed in the lively American context between fundamentalist Christians and more secular politicians vying for presidential power, over two centuries after the American independence years first defined religion-state ties.