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  DAILY ALERT Tuesday,
February 15, 2011

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U.S.-Egyptian Counterterrorism Work Thrown into Question - Mary Beth Sheridan and Joby Warrick (Washington Post)
    For decades, Egypt's government has been a critical partner for U.S. intelligence agencies, sharing information on extremist groups such as al-Qaeda and working hand in glove on counterterrorism operations. Now the future of that cooperation is in question.
    "How will cooperation with the United States on counterterrorism develop in the view of these new constraints? I would argue the space will contract," said Aaron David Miller, a former State Department Middle East expert now at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
    Robert Grenier, former head of the CIA's counterterrorism center, said, "The Egyptians have as much interest in protecting themselves from violent extremism as everyone else." But with a new government, "the comfort level with the United States may not be so high. They will be more distrusting."
    J. Scott Carpenter, a Middle East expert with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, notes that al-Qaeda opposes the kind of democracy that millions of Egyptians called for. "The developments in Egypt are actually devastating to al-Qaeda," he said.

Jordan: King's Bodyguards Shoot Protesters - Mudar Zahran (Hudson Institute-New York)
    A visit by King Abdullah of Jordan to Al-Hashemiyah University in the rural area of Mafraq turned violent Sunday when his bodyguards opened fire on protesters, injuring at least four.

From Tunis to Cairo to Riyadh? - Karen Elliott House (Wall Street Journal)
    Unless the Saudi regime rapidly and radically reforms itself - or is pushed to do so by the U.S. - it will remain vulnerable to upheaval.
    The royal family increasingly is seen by its subjects as profligate, corrupt and unable to deliver efficient government.

Palestinian Authority Settles Terrorism Lawsuit - Eric Tucker (AP-Miami Herald)
    The Palestinian Authority has settled a federal lawsuit in Rhode Island over the shooting deaths 15 years ago of a couple driving home from a wedding in Israel, according to court papers filed Monday.
    The settlement erases a $116 million default judgment entered against the PA and PLO.
    U.S. citizen Yaron Ungar, 25, and his pregnant wife, Efrat, were killed in June 1996 in a drive-by shooting by Hamas gunmen while driving west of Jerusalem.
    The suit alleged the PA and the PLO provided a safe haven and operational base for Hamas.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran Sees Biggest Protests in a Year - Thomas Erdbrink and Liz Sly
    In Tehran on Monday, large crowds of protesters defied tear gas to march down a major thoroughfare, chanting "Death to the dictator," in the biggest demonstration in the Iranian capital since the government effectively crushed the opposition movement in December 2009. Many protesters wore green ribbons, the symbol of Iran's opposition movement. At least one person was reported killed and several wounded in a shooting incident connected with the protests. (Washington Post)
        See also Video: Protests in Tehran (Telegraph-UK)
  • Egypt Unrest Puts Mideast Peace Efforts on Hold - Josef Federman
    Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's downfall appears to have nudged Israel and the Palestinians toward some common ground: Neither side seems to think now is the time for brave moves toward peace. Mubarak's downfall has robbed Israel of a key ally and raised concerns that the radical Muslim Brotherhood could play a role in a future Egyptian government.
        At a time of such great uncertainty, Israeli officials are highly reluctant to turn over full control of territory on their doorstep to Abbas, a man they view as well-intentioned but weak. Just as Abbas' forces lost control of Gaza to Hamas, Israelis fear the same thing could happen in the West Bank, putting a hostile group just a few miles from the country's largest cities. (AP-Washington Post)
  • Israel-Egypt Trade Links May Help Limit Any Rupture in Ties - Joshua Mitnick
    Israeli businessmen with activities in Egypt believe that the economic foundation of the peace between the two countries will help stave off a rupture in ties. Though trade remains minimal because of the cold peace, the two countries have cooperated on a natural gas pipeline and Israel-owned textile factories that employ thousands of Egyptians to manufacturer clothing for export. Textile companies and other Egyptian exporters sell more than $1 billion worth of merchandise in the U.S. free of customs under the "Qualified Industrial Zone'' program - which gives Egyptian manufacturers incentives for using Israeli raw materials. (Christian Science Monitor)
  • Jordan Minister Joins March for Release of Soldier Who Killed 7 Israeli School Girls
    Jordan's new justice minister, Hussein Mjali, on Monday joined protesters in Amman demanding the early release of Jordanian army Corp. Ahmed Daqamseh who shot dead seven Israeli school girls in 1997 during an outing near Jordan's border with Israel. Mjali was the soldier's former lawyer.
        Israeli Embassy spokeswoman Merav Horsandi said it "is difficult for us to comprehend how there are people who support the release of a cold-blooded murderer of young children....Israel cannot imagine a situation in which such a vile murderer will be set free by Jordan."  (AP-New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Former IDF Chief of Staff Sees Weakening of Moderate Camp in Egypt - Gil Shefler and Benjamin Spier
    It's important to retain Egypt as an ally, but Israel has contingency plans in case Cairo rescinds its peace treaty with Jerusalem, former IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi told the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations on Monday in Jerusalem. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Abbas Worried about Popular Uprising - Khaled Abu Toameh
    PA President Mahmoud Abbas' decision to reshuffle the Palestinian cabinet is seen as a sign of his concern that the tsunami that swept the Tunisian and Egyptian presidents from office would sooner or later hit Ramallah. Abbas knows that without the support of a majority of Palestinians, he could end up facing a popular revolt. The downfall of Mubarak's regime is a "catastrophe" for Abbas and an award for Hamas, admitted a senior Fatah official. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Egypt Should Take Its Time Building a Democracy - David Makovsky
    A democratic transition should not be confused with an instant election. Apart from an election, democracy is about building the institutions that ensure there are safeguards for individuals. It also requires an independent judiciary, a free press, minority rights, and a security apparatus that maintains the monopoly on the use of force. These institutions provide the opportunity for the creation of a civic culture where parties can negotiate their demands in a peaceful framework.
        Democratic transition is hard enough without pressure demanding that it be rapid. The test is not a first election, but rather whether there is a second one. The writer is director of the Project on the Middle East Peace Process at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (USA Today)
        See also Reflections on the Revolution in Egypt - Richard N. Haass
    Egyptians need time to build a civil society and open a political spectrum that has been mostly closed for decades. Early elections should be avoided. The writer, formerly Director of Policy Planning in the U.S. State Department, is President of the Council on Foreign Relations. (Project Syndicate)
        See also Egypt Opposition Needs Time, or Islamists Will Win - Tom Perry
    The Muslim Brotherhood will be the only group in Egypt ready for a parliamentary election unless others are given a year or more to recover from years of oppression, said a former Brotherhood politician seeking to found his own party. Abou Elela Mady broke away from the Brotherhood in the 1990s. He tried four times to get approval for his Wasat Party (Center Party) under Mubarak's rule, but curbs on political life prevented him doing so. (Reuters)
  • Arab Dictators and Radical Islam - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Instead of focusing their attention on the Islamists, Arab dictators chose to chase secular reformists, liberals, democrats, newspaper editors and human rights activists; by suppressing the emergence of these people, the Arab dictatorships paved the way for the rise of radical extremists. This is the reason the Islamist groups in the Arab countries are much more organized.
        Unlike the Islamist groups, the anti-government demonstrators in Egypt and Jordan still do not have leaders. Mohammed ElBaradei, who enabled Iran to build up its nuclear program by misrepresenting it to the West, has not succeeded in presenting himself as a charismatic leader of the opposition in Egypt. In the absence of secular leadership, it is all too likely that the well-organized Islamist groups would, sooner rather than later, come to power. (Hudson Institute-New York)
  • Israel Loves Egypt - Abraham Rabinovich
    Israelis' love of Egypt has always been a one-way affair, but in the post-Mubarak era, it will be more difficult to sustain the illusion that one day Egypt might smile back. After engaging in a fierce war along the Suez Canal in 1973, Israelis wasted little time when a peace treaty was signed before chucking their uniforms and invading the Nile Valley as tourists. The Israelis fell in love with the unspoiled beaches of the Sinai Peninsula and with the Egyptians themselves, whom they found to be a pleasant people with a wonderful sense of humor.
        On a national level, though, Egyptians didn't like Israel. President Hosni Mubarak was frequently consulted by Israeli leaders, but they traveled to Cairo. He never came to Israel except for the funeral of Yitzhak Rabin. Israelis do not expect the new regime to sever the peace treaty in the near future. But in the absence of Mubarak, relations are expected to grow steadily colder, with war somewhere down the line a scenario that cannot be dismissed. (Washington Times)

Understanding the Muslim Brotherhood - Bret Stephens (Wall Street Journal)

  • It's easy to be taken in by the Muslim Brotherhood: Eight decades as a disciplined, underground organization, outwardly involved in charitable social work, have made them experts at tailoring messages to separate audiences.
  • Hassan al-Banna (1906-1949), the Brotherhood's founder, was an admirer of the fascist movements of his day, and he had similar ambitions for his own movement. "Andalusia, Sicily, the Balkans, south Italy and the Roman sea islands were all Islamic lands that have to be restored to the homeland of Islam," he wrote. "As Signor Mussolini believed that it was within his right to revive the Roman Empire...similarly it is our right to restore to the Islamic empire its glory."
  • The Brotherhood's Kamal al-Hilbawi told Iran's Al-Alam TV earlier this month: "We think highly of a country...that confronts Western hegemony, and is scientifically and technologically advanced. Unfortunately, these characteristics can be found only in the Islamic Republic of Iran."
  • Muhammad Badie, the Brotherhood's supreme guide, sermonized in October: "Resistance is the only solution against the Zio-American arrogance and tyranny....The improvement and change that the [Muslim] nation seeks can only be raising a jihadi generation that pursues death just as the enemies pursue life."
  • In 2005, candidates for the Brotherhood took 20% of the parliamentary vote. Gamal al-Banna, Hassan's youngest brother, once told me they command as much as 40% support. Unless Egypt's secular forces can coalesce into serious political parties, the people for whom Islam is the solution won't find the fetters of democracy to be much of a problem.

        See also Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood Seeks to Become Recognized Political Party (CNN)

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