egypt

The Voluntary Exchange Podcast: Biblical Proporations

Sinai

This episode is focused mostly on the recent attack on a Sufi Islamic mosque in the Egyptian village of Biral-Abud. The village is located on the Sinai Peninsula, an area of Egypt that the central government in Cairo has little control over. What has grown in place of the military dictatorship Sinai has been Al Qeada, and more recently ISIS.

This attack was carried out by an regional ISIS cell which the newspapers call “Sinai Province”. Lead by Muhammad al-Iswai, this group has been expanding their control over the northern part of the Sinai. This is the area closest to the Gaza Strip, and of course Israel. An attack this one, or the more shocking downing of a Russian jetliner, definitely gets the attention of Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United States.

It is important to remember the Sinai Peninsula borders the Red Sea, which has a large tourism economy. The eastern coast of the Suez Canal also sits in on the Peninsula. An unstable Sinai is an international issue. Since Al Qeada began operating in the region in 2011, gas pipelines, the Canal and US troops have been in danger of attacks by Al Qeada and now ISIS.

Because of the disfranchisement of the Bedouin tribes of the Sinai, Cairo is dealing with a situation much like the tribal areas of Iraq or Afghanistan. Tribal leadership is the law of the land, and tribes either cooperate with the extremist groups or they fight them. The Sinai is no different. Stories of violence by Bedouin tribes against ISIS men in Sinai is not uncommon.

The reasons we can draw for the attack are many. Sufi Islam was founded in this small village, which groups like ISIS see as a crime against Islam. A more secular reason could be that that the Sufis have been working with the central authorities in Cairo to stop the growth of ISIS. This seems to me to make more sense, with religion has the cover. Further still, ISIS has been moving into tribal gang turf, as the Bedouins are in control of the smuggling of goods in Gaza. Attacks have taken place on both sides over these smuggling operations.

Israel has taken special interest in the Sinai, going back to the wars of the late 60s and 70s. The results of the Camp David Accords of 1979 still hold, as Egypt has to get Israeli approval for troop numbers within the Sinai. Israel has had talks about purchasing the Sinai Penensula from Egypt, helping to bring the right-wing in Israel it’s “fix” for the Gaza situation. The “Greater Gaza” idea is a real one, and includes moving the Arab population from Gaza to the Sinai, or at least expand the Strip south. By expanding Gaza, the hope is for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Jerusalem to relocate, giving Israel full open range to settle the West Bank.

The “Greater Gaza” plan has the blessing of the United States. As does closer cooperation with Egypt and Israel. Joining this group more publicly then previously has been Saudi Arabia. The Saudis have been working more closely with Israel, and with MSB at the head of the royal family, he is cracking down on the extremist element within his Kingdom. This has to be at the request of Washington and Tel Aviv.

The attack has been used by MSB to help sell his new counter-terrorism group, which includes 40 Muslim countries.

Quick Hits

  • The Pentagon has been caught trying to cover up child abuse by Afghan security forces. Troops had admitted in an Inspector General’s report that they had been ordered to “ignore” the sexual abuse of children by the security forces they train.
  • Also in Afghanistan, the Trump administration has decided to start bombing opium production in the country. Once a crop our troops protected, recently the Taliban has taken over the trade from US allies, making the Pentagon have to make a 180 on heroin production in Afghanistan. This does give the military another excuse to continue the occupation that has gone on for over a decade.
  • Peace talks in Geneva about the war in Syria went “nowhere” this week. With the West still pushing for Assad to step down, there is no chance for any agreement on terms while Assad holds a major upper hand on the ground in Syria.
  • News has surfaced confirming what most already knew, the Pentagon has been lying about the number of troops in Iraq & Syria. The “official” numbers showed 500 troops in Syria, with another 5000 in Iraq. In reality, the numbers in Syria total 1700, with over 9000 in Iraq. This should be bigger news, but with CNN busy “getting” Trump, this story won’t become a scandal.

Content

Episode can be found here…The full episode archive can be found here and on ITunes.

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After Pretending to Care About Egyptian Democracy, the U.S. Back to Openly Supporting Tyranny.

Glenn Greenwald at The Intercept does a great job summing up the last 3 years of US policy towards Egypt, and how the wishes of the Egyptian people are the last thing on the list.

Al Jazeera to Close Offices in Egypt

“Al Jazeera’s last remaining employees in Egypt were informed Wednesday that they will receive their last paychecks this month, as the Qatar-based network closed its offices in Egypt.

 

The shocking news comes as Egypt continues to crack down on media outlets. No organization has been targeted more frequently, or with harsher consequences, than Al Jazeera, which Egypt sees as an extension of Qatar’s pro-Muslim Brotherhood agenda. Three of its journalists are currently on trial, on charged with “terrorism-related” activities.

 

Al Jazeera has not reported from Egypt since Dec. 29, 2013, when the three reporters were arrested while working out of Cairo’s upscale Marriott Hotel. But the network has continued paying salaries to drivers, cameramen, and office workers.

 

Many of those still employed worked with local Al Jazeera affiliates, and did not report for the news team due to fears that any person with a connection to the network was at risk of arrest.

 

On Wednesday, however, several dozen of these employees were asked to attend a meeting where they were told after this month they would no longer receive a salary, and that they be given a compensation package going forward. Four of those employees spoke to BuzzFeed on condition of anonymity, because they were not allowed to publicly discuss their contracts.

 

“The whole office knows, they are letting everyone go,” said one office employee of Al Jazeera, ahead of the meeting. “We are all looking for new jobs.”

 

Hasan Patel, a spokesman for Al Jazeera, said, “Al Jazeera currently does not comment on HR issues relating to freelance staff who may have worked for us in Egypt, mainly due to their safety, especially during a volatile period.”

 

Al Jazeera once boasted one of the largest news networks in Egypt. During the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, dozens of Al Jazeera teams reported from across the country, and for many in the Arab world the network became the face of the protests in Tahrir Square.

But since then, Al Jazeera has seen its license to broadcast in Egypt revoked and its offices repeatedly raided. Many of those who worked with the network have been arrested or detained, while others have left Egypt to avoid arrest.

 

Three Al Jazeera journalists who were arrested on Dec. 29 — Peter Greste, Mohammed Fahmy, and Baher Mohammed — are currently standing trial on terrorism-related charges, the first such case against reporters in Egypt. A verdict is expected on Monday.

 

The three men have spent nearly 100 days in jail, and many believe the trial was punishment for the Qatari government’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood.

 

State prosecutors said they would provide proof of the terrorism charges, but much of the “evidence” has been spurious at best.

 

In court, prosecutors introduced an award-winning BBC documentary made by Greste in Somalia, and photos of the men on holiday with their families as evidence. They also aired footage of a press conference in Kenya, and five Sky News stories filmed in Cairo, as evidence to support their claims that Al Jazeera was “conspiring with the Muslim Brotherhood to broadcast news that falsely portrayed Egypt as being in a state of civil war.”

 

On Tuesday, a fourth Al Jazeera journalist, Abdullah Elshamy, was released from prison Tuesday after a four-month hunger strike. ElShamy, who has been incarcerated for more than 10 months, never had charges brought against him. Though he was released from prison, Egyptian authorities said that he was still being investigated.”

 

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