The desert rats. The old jaunty Monty bagging the straggler in Rommel’s contingent in the shifting dunes. Lawrence of Arabia, that envelope pushing Orientalist and the legacy of Western firepower, destruction, albeit so solidly revealed as the path of the best of intentions. Britain is back in the Middle East to act as a buffer zone with Israel and mop up “terrorists” in the Sinai. It avoids the ugly specter of Arabs killing each other and lets the Brits keep their hands on the wheel and test out new equipment in the process. You have to wonder if the entire Arab Spring was not a contrived, artificial and planned venture from the outset, maybe a better deal.
Despite the blustery prose and bed-wetting gestural activity of the likes of Thomas Friedman, not much has really changed with Egypt and the “radical” Muslim Brotherhood. Despite the noxious but harmless anti-Jewish fireworks, they seem even more pliable than Mubarak with their cooperation on thee war on terrorism and still solid dependency on the Western money and banking cartels. So, Britain is back in the desert, with a free hand, and will adopt much the same tactics that beat Rommel and permit Morsi to shore up credentials with the powers that be. Its the “normalization” game….
(see link at end)…Britain is to provide military advice to the Egyptian government to help it crack down on militants in the Sinai Peninsula who are destabilising relations with neighbouring Israel.
In his first meeting with the Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi in New York, David Cameron will announce that Britain’s most senior military figure will travel to Cairo. General Sir David Richards, the chief of the defence staff, will lead a British effort that will also see a stabilisation team despatched to Egypt. The team, which will mainly consist of field experts from the Department for International Development, will advise on how to ween Bedouin tribes in Sinai away from smuggling.
The prime minister believes that Morsi has made a good start as Egypt’s first democratically elected president. In one of his first moves Morsi sanctioned a crack down on militants in Sinai.
Cameron will reach out to Morsi by announcing that Britain will press its European partners to relax stringent EU sanctions on Egypt to allow up to £100m in frozen assets to be repatriated to the government. A taskforce will be established to ensure that assets belonging to the family of the ousted president Hosni Mubarak are returned to Egypt.Cameron wants to show Britain’s support for the first democratically elected president of the largest Arab country.
Morsi’s move against militants in Sinai was seen as a particularly positive signal because Israel was acutely nervous about the election of an Islamist president in Egypt. Morsi was the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate in the election, and Egypt shares a border with the Gaza Strip which is run by Hamas, the Islamist Palestinian party, that has roots in the Muslim Brotherhood.
The UN, EU, US and Russia, which oversee the Middle East peace process, fear that instability in the Sinai Peninsula could disrupt the Camp David accords which led to demilitarisation of the area after the 1973 Yom Kippur war. Israel withdrew its forces from the peninsula on the understanding that it would be a non-military zone.
A senior British government source said it was important to respond after Morsi’s impressive start as president. The source said: “President Morsi, newly elected, is making an interesting and quite impressive start. It is going to be an absolutely key country for that region’s future.”
Britain understands the concerns of some, notably Israel, who fear the appointment of an Islamist president. “Of course everyone has concerns and worries and interests,” the source added. “There will be all sorts of questions in people’s minds. You have got to judge people by what they do. He made an impressive start going after the militants in Sinai. That is quite an important move.
“The Arab Spring is working. Look at the reaction in Libya to the appalling events at the US consulate. There were 35,000 people on the streets saying this is not us and going after the militants. There all sorts of reasons to be worried. But net net we should be positive.”
Cameron will tell Morsi that he shares his frustration at the slow pace of repatriating assets that belong to the Mubarak family. Under the EU sanctions rules a series of highly complex legal hurdles have to be cleared before the assets can be unfrozen.
• This article was amended on 26 September 2012. An editing error in the seventh paragraph led to the misattribution of a quote to David Cameron rather than a senior British source. This has been corrected. Read More:http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/sep/26/uk-egypt-sinai-militants
(see link at end)…Tariq Ramadan, professor of contemporary Islamic studies, Oxford University:
[B]ehind the celebration of freedom of speech hides the arrogance of ideologists and well-fed racists who feed off the multiform humiliation of Muslims and to demonstrate the clear ‘superiority’ of their civilisation or the validity of their resistance to the ‘cancer’ of retrograde Islam…..
…Omid Safi, professor of Islamic studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill:
In reality, pieces like the ‘Innocence of Muslims’ [sic] so-called film are best classified as ‘hate speech,’ as they seem to be of the same genre as anti-Semitic films of the 1930’s or Birth of the [sic] Nation KKK movies….
…Stephen Zunes, professor of politics and international studies and director of the Middle East studies program, University of San Francisco:
It is extremely unlikely that such vitriolic anti-American protests would have taken place were it not for decades of U.S. support, during both Republican and Democratic administrations, of allied dictatorships and the Israeli occupation, not to mention the invasion and occupation of Iraq and the ongoing military strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen.
John Esposito, director of the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, Georgetown University:
The terrorist attack on the US consulate in Benghazi that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three embassy staff, and the Cairo riots seem similar but share in common the incitement and exploitation of popular outrage among many Muslims, as we have witnessed during the Salman Rushdie and Danish cartoons affairs. They exploit deep seated popular anti-American sentiment, based on decades of resentment over US and European foreign policies in the Middle East.
Juan Cole, Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History, University of Michigan:
The touchiness of Muslims about assaults on the Prophet Muhammad is in part rooted in centuries of Western colonialism and neo-colonialism during which their religion was routinely denounced as barbaric by the people ruling and lording it over them. Read More:http://frontpagemag.com/2012/cinnamon-stillwell/profs-on-mideast-turmoil-blame-america-israel-and-free-speech/