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Egypt's ElBaradei: Liberals 'decimated' in vote

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  • #76
    Egypt Islamists stop protesters on way to parliament - Yahoo! News
    Egypt Islamists stop protesters on way to parliament
    AFPAFP – 17 hrs ago

    Hundreds of Egyptian protesters demanding the end of military rule were prevented …

    Hundreds of Egyptian protesters demanding the end of military rule were prevented on Tuesday from reaching parliament by backers of the Muslim Brotherhood, which holds the majority in the assembly.

    "We are standing here as a human shield, because if the protesters go any further, they will clash with the police. They want to enter parliament, what do you expect me to do?" Muslim Brotherhood member Hamdy Adbdelsamad told AFP.

    Behind him, anti-military protesters chanted against the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces that took power when Hosni Mubarak was ousted by a popular uprising last year.

    Activists had called for a march from Cairo's Tahrir Square -- the symbolic heart of the Egyptian uprising -- to parliament to press the newly-elected MPs to implement the goals of the revolution.

    They want the ouster of the military junta, an end to the military trials of civilians, the restructuring of the interior ministry and a guarantee of freedoms and social justice.

    Islamist and secular protesters stood side by side in Tahrir Square during the 18 days of protests that toppled Mubarak in early 2011.

    But tensions have risen between them since parliamentary elections propelled the long-banned Muslim Brotherhood to the centre stage of politics, with its Freedom and Justice Party now controling 47 percent of the assembly.

    Secular protesters accuse the Islamists colluding with the ruling military to maintain their new-found power.

    "Badie, you are selling the revolution!" the anti-military protesters chanted, in reference to Mohammed Badie, the Islamist movement's supreme guide.

    "The Muslim Brotherhood youth are blocking all roads to the parliament, preventing the anti-military protesters... There are huge numbers of them standing in rows like militias," one anti military protester told AFP.

    Riot police was also deployed near the parliament building were MPs were holding a session.

    After several hours, protesters decided to abandon their plans to reach parliament and headed to the state television building in the Maspero district, another focal point of the protests.

    Since January 25, pro-democracy groups have organised a series of rallies and protests to mark one year since the uprising that toppled Mubarak and left the military in power.

    The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, led by Mubarak's ex-defence minister Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, has pledged to hand power to civilian rule by June when a new president is to be elected.

    The military enjoyed hero status at the start of the uprising last year for refusing to shoot on demonstrators, but became the target of protester wrath over human rights abuses and the stifling of dissent.
    The Tahrir Square illusion
    By DANIEL NISMAN 02/01/2012 21:28
    Egypt's SCAF continues to rule not in spite of the citizens, but with their compliance.
    Egypt's Tantawi talking with journalists By REUTERS
    Despite the media’s love affair with the anti-Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) activist movement, the Egyptian revolution has already been secretly decided.

    After the tense buildup to the anniversary of the revolution, Egypt’s new ruling elite can breathe a sigh of relief. While tens of thousands of liberal activists swarmed Tahrir Square against the military leadership, they failed to reignite the nationwide anger which led to the ousting of Hosni Mubarak on January 25 of last year.

    It seems clear that after a year of political unrest, sectarian violence, civil strikes and economic turmoil, the majority of Egyptians have opted to ensure their security, even if it means forgoing the original goals of the revolution. This security has been achieved by the emergence of a new balance of power, carefully negotiated against the backdrop of parliamentary elections, between the Muslim Brotherhood and the ruling military council.

    This shadowy agreement first became evident in November 2011, when liberal activists engulfed downtown Cairo in rioting, threatening stability before the onset of parliamentary elections. While the media flocked to Mohammed Mahmoud Street to capture romantic images of stone-throwing youth, Muslim Brotherhood leaders secretly met with SCAF officials to decipher a way to end the violence in a mutually beneficial manner.

    It was during these behind-the-scenes meetings that the two parties allegedly reconciled their previous differences over the nature of Egypt’s constitution, agreeing in turn to each do their part to ensure stability in the country.

    The Muslim Brotherhood would agree to support the SCAF’s timetable for transfer of power, pledging to refrain from contributing to any protest movement which might arise. For its part, the SCAF agreed to allow what would be a Brotherhood-dominated parliament to decipher the constitution while reportedly ensuring a presidential system which would ensure the military’s continued influence in government.

    As reports of the agreement began to trickle in through local media, the Muslim Brotherhood staunchly denied their participation. However, the course of their actions since November provide a telling indicator that Egypt’s most influential faction is now in cahoots with increasingly unpopular military council.

    When riots flared again in December 2011, the Brotherhood came out in support of the SCAF’s timetable for presidential elections, going against calls made by liberal politicians. Just as Egypt appeared divided over the SCAF-induced celebratory nature of the revolution’s anniversary, the Muslim Brotherhood openly held supportive rallies in Tahrir Square opposite thousands of secular and liberal activists who were calling for its removal from power.

    Given the media’s fascination with Egypt’s seemingly continuous revolution, one would think that the Muslim Brotherhood’s support of the much-hated SCAF would detract from its popularity. The Brotherhood’s subsequent success in parliamentary elections and ever-growing popularity proves that the Egyptian reality is not consistent with the media’s portrayal.

    In reality, the Brotherhood’s agreement with the SCAF did not draw the ire of the average Egyptian due to the simple fact that much of the population simply wishes for a restoration of security. The instability and uncertainty in the wake of Mubarak’s ousting has not only put many Egyptians out of work, but has also caused many residents to fear for their personal safety in a growing security vacuum. As such, the outrage of the educated liberal elite over issues like imprisoned bloggers has continuously failed to resonate with a population which is finds itself struggling to survive. In their eyes, the destabilizing violence caused by these groups’ pursuit of liberal-democratic governance has only contributed to their hardship, effectively becoming more of a nuisance than a legitimate struggle.

    The Brotherhood, like the average Egyptian, still views the military as the only entity capable of keeping the country afloat. For a group which desperately needed such security for its rise to power during the lengthy polling period, an agreement to cooperate with the SCAF was clearly a well calculated move.

    As Egypt moves forward into the second year since of its rebirth, liberal activist groups are likely to continue drawing media attention through colorful demonstrations in Tahrir Square. Outside of Cairo, meanwhile, the average Egyptian has reconciled with the idea that ensuring personal security under a military-influenced government is preferable to the prolonged instability that comes from pursuit of liberal democracy.

    Since Mubarak’s ousting, the liberal activists who first took to the streets to spark the uprising have consistently claimed that the revolution has been stolen from under their noses. Embodying that sentiment is their latest protest on January 27, which has been dubbed “Friday of Anger.” Their anger, however, need not lie with the military government or the Muslim Brotherhood. As with any undemocratic regime, the SCAF continues to rule not in spite of the Egyptian people, but with their compliance.

    Daniel Nisman works for Max Security Solutions, a geo-political risk consulting firm based in the Middle East. He specialized in North African and Egyptian affairs.
    Last edited by troung; 02 Feb 12,, 01:47.
    To sit down with these men and deal with them as the representatives of an enlightened and civilized people is to deride ones own dignity and to invite the disaster of their treachery - General Matthew Ridgway


    • #77
      Egyptian officials look to set up Islamic index -
      February 1, 2012 6:45 pm
      Egyptian officials look to set up Islamic index

      By Heba Saleh in Cairo

      Egypt’s newly-elected Islamists say they want to introduce an index of companies that comply with sharia law as part of a wider move towards an Islamic economy.

      Officials from Freedom and Justice, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, and from Nour, a party of ultraconservative Salafi Islamists, argue that such an index would encourage a slice of investors who, they allege, have shunned the bourse for fear that it might somehow contravene religious law.
      On this story

      Ahmed Heikal Business blueprint
      New parliament marks radical shift
      Islamists secure top spot in parliament
      Analysis Egypt’s religious revival
      Editorial Egypt’s challenge

      On this topic

      Egypt steps up crackdown on US rights groups
      Egypt indices soar on peaceful protests
      Egyptians urge civilian rule a year on from revolt
      Egyptians mark anniversary of protests

      Finance experts from the two parties say they envision the creation of an index of sharia-compliant companies as part of a new Islamic economy, with banks and insurance companies that adhere to Islamic principles working alongside conventional institutions.

      Under Hosni Mubarak, the president ousted by a popular uprising last year, the Egyptian authorities looked askance at Islamic finance and severely limited its expansion, probably associating it with attempts by its political opponents in the Muslim Brotherhood to enhance their influence in society.

      The FJP and Nour together occupy some two-thirds of the seats in Egypt’s new parliament, and are expected to emerge as the winners in elections for the Shura council, the upper chamber in the country’s bicameral assembly. Staggered Shura elections started on Sunday and will continue until the end of February.

      “We want to reassure people that we want to increase the number of investors on the bourse,” said Tarek Shaalan, a member of Nour’s economic committee. “But how can I attract foreign investors to the Egyptian stock exchange when locals stay away from it? One reason why Egyptians don’t invest in the market is because they want halal [religiously acceptable] investments.”

      Mr Shaalan, who teaches economics at the American University in Cairo, says he has researched “a cluster” of Egyptians who worked abroad and built up savings. He found that they had five times as many investments outside the country than at home and that compliance with sharia was a reason they preferred stock markets in Gulf countries.

      “We [Islamists] represent 75 per cent of the population,” he said. “That’s what the population wants. These are actual needs and this system will do no harm to other [forms of investment]. Already many Egyptians do not want to work in banking because they consider it a usurious sector.”

      But Mr Shaalan said the introduction of the index would have to wait until there were enough sharia-compliant companies on the exchange. The conditions range from the nature of a company’s business to whether it pays interest on credit from conventional banks.

      Mohamed Gouda, an official of the FJP said that an Islamic index would draw more investments from the Gulf Arab region. He said an “Islamic supervisory authority” working with the bourse would set the standards for sharia-compliant companies. “Through presence in the market, [Islamic financial instruments] will be able to impose themselves, and customers will . . . consider them better than what already exists,” he said.

      Egyptian brokers, however, are sceptical that significant demand exists for Islamic instruments. Hisham Tawfik, who heads Arabeya Online for Securities Brokerage, said some brokers had already devised their own indices of sharia-compliant companies, but that in his experience investor interest was “tiny”.
      To sit down with these men and deal with them as the representatives of an enlightened and civilized people is to deride ones own dignity and to invite the disaster of their treachery - General Matthew Ridgway


      • #78

        egypt's brotherhood fields presidential candidate
        associated pressby maggie michael | associated press – 17 mins ago
        Egypt's Brotherhood fields presidential candidate - Yahoo! News
        cairo (ap) — egypt's muslim brotherhood, already in control of almost half the seats in parliament, announced on saturday it was fielding its own presidential candidate, reversing an earlier decision not to do so and setting the stage for confrontation with the nation's ruling generals and the group's secular and liberal critics.

        A win by its candidate, the group's chief strategist and deputy leader khayrat el-shater, gives the formerly outlawed islamist movement a strong grip on the future of this mainly muslim nation whose longtime leader hosni mubarak, a staunch u.s. Ally, was ousted a year ago.

        The announcement at a cairo news conference ended months of speculation about whether the brotherhood would seek to round off its success in legislative elections with a bid for the country's most powerful office in the presidential race set to start in may.

        Egypt's press describe el-shater as a multi-millionaire businessman and one of the brotherhood's main financiers.

        The movement's decision to finally nominate one of its own is likely to escalate the group's confrontation with the council of military generals, who are accused of seeking to preserve the army's privileges and are likely not to want too much power concentrated in the hands of a single group.

        It will also widen the gap with liberals and secularists, who fear that the movement — which has largely espoused moderate rhetoric in the past year — will implement a hardline islamist agenda once it has solidified its political position.

        Already, islamists enjoy a comfortable majority on a 100-member panel tasked with drafting a new constitution for egypt, which has raised serious alarm among the nation's large christian minority and liberals.

        Mahmoud hussein, the group's deputy leader, said the decision was made in the face of "attempts to abort the revolution," after the military council refused several requests by the brotherhood to appoint a cabinet of ministers.

        "we don't want to reach a confrontation that affects the path of the nation," mohammed morsi, top leader of the group's political arm said.

        But such a confrontation is likely. The move reverses a pledge made by the group's leaders not to contest presidential elections to reassure liberals and western countries fearful of an islamic takeover.

        The group won close to half of parliament seats in the country's first post-revolution elections in november. That victory was largely due to the brotherhood's grassroots movement, however, and it is unclear how el-shater will do against other candidates who might have greater name recognition and stronger television presence, such as ex-arab league chief amr moussa.

        El-shater also faces off against two other islamist candidates, although the impact of him splitting the islamist vote is lessened because the top two candidates in the first round of balloting will go on to a run-off.

        El-shater, who is in his early sixties, joined the brotherhood in 1974. He has been jailed four times for a total of seven years on charges relating to his membership in the brotherhood, which was outlawed more than 50 years ago.

        However, hussein said that there are "no legal obstacles" in front of el-shater to contest the election.
        To sit down with these men and deal with them as the representatives of an enlightened and civilized people is to deride ones own dignity and to invite the disaster of their treachery - General Matthew Ridgway


        • #79
          Where Will the Muslim Brotherhood Take Egypt’s Economy? | Yale Global | Feb 06 2012

          Where Will the Muslim Brotherhood Take Egypt’s Economy?

          Mohamed El Dahshan
          6 February 2012

          The Muslim Brotherhood is Egypt’s largest opposition group, so it’s no surprise that its political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party, secured nearly half the votes in parliamentary elections. Campaign rhetoric proposed alcohol restrictions, gender-segregated beaches, and revision of Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel. Ready to step into power, Islamists already have more pressing matters: an investigation of 43 employees, including 19 Americans, who work for human-rights and political NGOs and are accused of being aided by foreigners without official permission; the subsequent downturn in US-Egyptian relations; and a wave of unrest, violence and impatience for elected civilians to replace the transitional military government. The party must secure alliances with extremist or moderate groups to secure a majority, reports economist Mohamed El Dahshan, and in the meantime, economic planning is a work in progress. He concludes that viable, consistent economic policies could go a long way in reassuring investors, entrepreneurs and international aid donors relieving poverty; and eliminating corruption. – YaleGlobal

          Egypt’s Islamists scramble to develop economic policy staying within the dictates of religion

          CAIRO: Egypt’s new parliament is taking seat amid ongoing protests on the streets, deteriorating relations with the US over impending trial of NGO workers and threats that the US might review $1.3 billion in Egyptian military aid. Thus, it’s essential to read into the economic policy the Muslim Brotherhood will devise to redress an economy battered by a year of severe mismanagement by the ruling military junta and its successive transitional governments.

          The Brotherhood’s political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party, or FJP, won 47 percent of the seats in the Egyptian parliament in January 2012, and concerns about that accession to power largely concentrate on secondary issues – sartorial restrictions, alcohol prohibition, gender-segregated beaches – leaving little room for serious policy discussion. At times concerns were raised about the Brotherhood’s perspective on Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel.

          For the first time in its modern history, Egypt has been placed under the tutelage of an Islamist party. And more than cultural attitudes, its economic policies may signify the most profound changes for the country.

          Within the Muslim Brotherhood’s FJP, competing ideologies wrestle over economic planning.

          For much of its 85 years of existence, the Muslim Brotherhood was a banned opposition party. As such, it didn’t have to develop consistent economic policy. FJP’s economic policy today is a confusing series of ideas, mostly aimed at its conservative constituency. Short of a complete economic plan, FJP works from a series of clippings.

          Trying to discern a pattern from those clippings, one is struck by two competing ideologies wrestling within the economic policymaking:

          One is an interventionist tendency reflecting the organization’s traditional hierarchical structure. For example, Abdel Hafez El Sawy, now leading the FJP’s Economic Council, criticizes Egypt’s “unproductive and rentier economy” while emphasizing the need to encourage productivity by selecting “prime” sectors.

          The other is a group of Islamist industry and trade leaders headed by Khairat Al-Shater, multimillionaire businessman who found himself imprisoned by the Mubarak regime, assets twice confiscated. He is now a FJP strategist and senior leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. Al-Shater and others, such as his partner Hassan Malek or Safwan Sabet of household brand Juhaina fame, would argue for a liberal, market economy with a business-friendly climate. Al-Shater is already tasked with leading the massive “Renaissance Project” for FJP, a long-term plan to fix the economy, public administration, health and education. The project, awarded a generous budget, is at the heart of FJP’s strategy.

          Alongside such laudable generalities as restoring trust in the economy and self-sufficiency in strategic goods, FJP advocates for a mixed-basket of policies that include an export substitution industrial policy in cooperation with the private sector; controlling budget deficits and public debt, while rationing public spending; increasing the minimum wage, an original demand of Tahrir Square protesters; strengthening competition and anti-trust legislation; introducing a progressive income tax; and raising the ceiling for tax exemptions.

          The interventionist and free-market tendencies explain why commercial banks and the stock market won’t see their business threatened. Despite declarations of “moving to an Islamic economy” – one where interest-free Islamic finance replaces conventional commercial banking – embedded in the party platform, the Brotherhood and its businesspeople know that Islamic banking accounts for less than 4 percent of the local banking industry, estimated at $193 billion. They don’t want to frighten depositors and borrowers. The government will likely encourage banks to offer Islamic financial products to clients.

          Most striking about FJP’s top-down approach is the perception of poverty alleviation as a form of charity.

          Most striking about FJP’s top-down approach in a nation where 25.2 percent of the population lives below the poverty line is the perception of poverty alleviation as a form of charity, not a necessary outcome of economic growth. This is a remnant of the Brotherhood’s past far-reaching organized charity work. The source of their grassroots support is a historical perception of how development is “done,” as per the electoral program, with “permanent and continuous financing” through charity. Tellingly, the poverty-alleviation section of the electoral program is under “social justice,” not “economic development.”

          So how will government finance charities and balance the national budget? Here, the FJP fumbles, offering little about fiscal policy in its electoral program. The FJP seems to plan on methodically going through all of the country’s pockets.

          One potentially deep pocket is several billion in government “special funds” – slush funds not supervised by the government or included in the state budget. Another would be to cut energy subsidies for industry, a $3.3 billion reduction – both ideas of the previous transitional government.

          The FJP also estimates that “reviewing all oil and gas export deals” could provide $18 billion to state coffers – a wildly hypothetical estimate, as it assumes trade partners, most notably Israel, will agree on changing terms of agreements.

          Some Brotherhood leaders have floated the idea of repossessing previously state-owned land from owners who obtained it through corruption – a fair demand, but complicated, considering the reaction of investors to limited repossessions conducted by the transitional government in 2011.

          Another improbable source of income, hinted at by FJP, is making zakat – yearly alms that Muslims should pay to help the less fortunate, amounting to 2.5 percent of wealth – compulsory not voluntary.

          The Brotherhood, increasingly engaged in visible politicking with the army, is unlikely to touch the deep pocket of the military budget any time soon. With the help of US largess, $1.3 billion per year – in effect, unlikely to be revised downward – the military’s massive economic interests range from production of ovens and mineral water to beach-condo rentals. Such budget details are not public, though it’s estimated that the army’s economic interests represent a staggering 30 percent of the Egyptian GDP.

          The Brotherhood’s economic policy may represent little change from the past two decades.

          Ironically, a revenue-generating sector that seemed most threatened from the Brotherhood’s ascent – tourism – might escape unscathed. "No citizen who makes a living from [tourism] should feel concerned", FJP officials stated, attempting to ease worries of the almost 1 in every 9 Egyptians whose livelihood depends on the industry. Many fear that the Islamist parties in the parliament will push for prohibitions on alcohol consumption and swimwear. Extremists, mostly in the Salafi wing, exacerbate such fears by issuing statements comparing Pharaonic statues to forbidden pre-Islamic idols.

          The FJP promises to protect tourist sites, open new markets and improve tourism infrastructure. While restrictions on activities like alcohol consumption might befall Egyptian nationals, and that’s unlikely, tourists should notice no big changes. :Dancing-Banana:

          How the Brotherhood’s budget turns out depends on how parliamentary alliances coalesce. Existing tensions between liberal and Islamist parties will be replaced by common interests; the Brotherhood will find good allies in economic policy in smaller pro-market parties across the aisle.

          To be viewed as moderates, the Brotherhood will attempt to distance itself from the extremist Salafi groups. Nevertheless, punctual alliances, notably on issues deemed religious, will likely be created with the Salafi contingent. The latter has already voiced its support to compulsory zakat collection, for instance.

          The end result will be a stumbling, learn-as-you-go pragmatic pro-market economic policy with a strong welfare component. Deregulation will slow. Relations with international donors won’t change.

          At the end of the day the Brotherhood’s economic policy may represent little change from the past two decades, as Egypt’s economic policy maintained massive subsidization while conducting, or at least promising, pro-business reforms.

          Investors at home and abroad remain wary. The FJP-led government’s main challenge, then, is to reassure investors and entrepreneurs of its commitment to a market-based economy, while fulfilling its commitment to relieve poverty through charity and social programs while eradicating the corruption that has soured Egypt’s economy and vilified the market economy in the eyes of Egyptian citizens.

          Mohamed El Dahshan is an economist and a writer.


          • #80
            Aid to Egypt restored because US jobs depend on it.

            Once Imperiled, U.S. Aid to Egypt Is Restored | NY Times | March 23, 2012

            Once Imperiled, U.S. Aid to Egypt Is Restored
            By STEVEN LEE MYERS
            March 23, 2012

            WASHINGTON — An intense debate within the Obama administration over resuming military assistance to Egypt, which in the end was approved Friday by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, turned in part on a question that had nothing to do with democratic progress in Egypt but rather with American jobs at home.

            A delay or a cut in $1.3 billion in military aid to Egypt risked breaking existing contracts with American arms manufacturers that could have shut down production lines in the middle of President Obama’s re-election campaign and involved significant financial penalties, according to officials involved in the debate.

            Since the Pentagon buys weapons for foreign armed forces like Egypt’s, the cost of those penalties — which one senior official said could have reached $2 billion if all sales had been halted — would have been borne by the American taxpayer, not Egypt’s ruling generals.

            The companies involved include Lockheed Martin, which is scheduled to ship the first of a batch of 20 new F-16 fighter jets next month, and General Dynamics, which last year signed a $395 million contract to deliver component parts for 125 Abrams M1A1 tanks that are being assembled at a plant in Egypt.

            “In large part, there are U.S. jobs that are reliant on the U.S.-Egypt strong military-to-military relationship,” a senior State Department official said, speaking on condition of anonymity under rules set by the department. In deciding how to proceed, the official said, Mrs. Clinton and her colleagues “were looking at our overall national security goals, as well as any domestic issues.”

            Mrs. Clinton’s decision to resume military assistance, which has been a foundation of United States-Egyptian relations for over three decades, sidestepped a new Congressional requirement that for the first time directly links arms sales to Egypt’s protection of basic freedoms. No new military aid had been delivered since the fiscal year began last October, and Egypt’s military has all but exhausted funds approved in previous years.

            Mrs. Clinton’s decision provoked sharp criticism from lawmakers across the political spectrum, as well as human rights organizations. Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, criticized it as “beyond the pale.”

            Referring to Egypt’s recent decision to prosecute four American-financed international advocacy organizations, Mr. Paul added, “It sets a precedent that America will not punish its aggressors but instead give them billions of our taxpayers’ dollars.”

            Mrs. Clinton used her authority under the new law to waive a requirement that she certify Egypt’s protection of human rights. That she would not certify that the military had complied was in itself a rebuke to Egypt’s transitional military leaders, who have moved slowly to yield power and to lift a decades-old state of emergency, but it nonetheless allows the Egyptian military to continue to arm and equip its forces.

            “The secretary’s decision to waive is also designed to demonstrate our strong support for Egypt’s enduring role as a security partner and leader in promoting regional stability and peace,” the State Department’s spokeswoman, Victoria Nuland, said in a statement. Both the military assistance and an additional $250 million in economic and political assistance also required Mrs. Clinton to certify that Egypt was upholding the Camp David peace accords with Israel, which she did on Friday.

            The statement and continuing military and other assistance to Egypt, senior administration officials said, rewarded the extraordinary progress the country has made since the overthrow last year of its autocratic president, Hosni Mubarak. Egypt has elected a new Parliament in a vote widely seen as free and fair, and it has scheduled a presidential election in May, with a runoff to follow in June.

            “We’ve seen more progress in 16 months than we’ve seen in 60 years,” the senior State Department official said.

            Even so, the debate within the administration was unusually fraught, officials said, especially after Egypt had imposed a travel ban on seven Americans who were charged as part of the case against the American organizations.

            Some in the State Department, echoing the concerns from Capitol Hill and human rights advocates, argued that the administration should have withheld new military aid until the case was fully resolved and the presidential election held.

            Mrs. Clinton, officials said, favored a partial waiver, allowing some, but not all, of the assistance to begin. That would maintain leverage over Egypt’s generals to transfer political power to a newly elected government without jeopardizing existing military contracts.

            A looming deadline for payments, however, forced the issue before then, and the White House and Pentagon pressed for a waiver, officials said. A White House spokesman referred questions to the State Department, and the Pentagon did not respond to requests for comment.

            The military assistance to Egypt underscores a point Mrs. Clinton and other officials have made when it comes to foreign aid in general: much of it comes back to American corporations and organizations for equipment or services.

            “Lockheed Martin values the relationship established between our company and the Egyptian customer since the first F-16s were delivered in the early 1980s,” said Laura F. Siebert, a spokeswoman for the company, which is based in Fort Worth.

            The M1A1 components are built in factories in Alabama, Florida, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania, several of them battleground states in an election that has largely focused on jobs. Because the United States Army plans to stop buying new tanks by 2014, continued production relies on foreign contracts, often paid for by American taxpayers as military assistance.

            Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, who added the certification requirements to legislation authorizing military aid to Egypt, called the decision to waive them regrettable, and the resumption of aid “business as usual.”
            Last edited by Double Edge; 12 Apr 12,, 18:47.


            • #81
              Once the lolly flows the natives cease to be restless and politicians perform on cue.

              For now, all's quiet on the western front (Israel's that is) :)

              Brotherhood lawmaker: No vote on Egypt-Israel peace deal | Washington Times | April 5, 2012

              Brotherhood lawmaker: No vote on Egypt-Israel peace deal
              By Ben Birnbaum-The Washington Times Thursday, April 5, 2012

              A lawmaker from Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood said Thursday that there would be “no referendum” on the country’s peace treaty with Israel.

              “We respect international obligations, period,” Abdul Mawgoud Dardery, a lawmaker from the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), told The Washington Times.

              Asked if a Brotherhood-led government would put the 1979 Camp David Accords to a referendum, as many of the Islamist group’s leaders have promised, Mr. Dardery said no.

              “No referendum at all concerning international obligations,” he said. “All our international agreements are respected by the Freedom and Justice Party, including Camp David.

              “These are ideas being circulated within Egypt,” Mr. Dardery said of a potential referendum. “That is not the stand of the Freedom and Justice Party.”

              But Mr. Dardery added that the Brotherhood expects “all parties” to respect the Camp David Accords. “We will never be the first to break with the international agreements,” he said.

              On Thursday, FJP presidential candidate Khairat al-Shater filed papers with Egypt’s High Presidential Elections Commission.

              The Brotherhood had promised not to field a presidential candidate but changed course Saturday, citing threats to democracy from the military council that has ruled Egypt since the ouster of longtime President Hosni Mubarak last year.

              Mr. Dardery said the military’s calls to dissolve the parliament threatened to take “Egypt back to square one, where the president has sweeping powers, so we really wanted to make sure that democracy road is protected by the people of Egypt.”

              Mr. Dardery is in Washington with other FJP representatives for meetings with White House and State Department officials.

              © Copyright 2012 The Washington Times, LLC.


              • #82
                An earlier important development

                Egypt court suspends constitutional assembly | BBC | Apr 10 2012

                A court in Egypt has suspended the 100-member assembly appointed last month to draft the country's new constitution.

                Several lawsuits had demanded Cairo's Administrative Court block the decision to form the panel as it did not reflect the diversity of Egyptian society.

                They said women, young people and minorities were under-represented. Islamists from the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party and the Salafist Nour party, which dominate parliament, have a near-majority.

                Liberals and secularists fear some of them would like to amend the constitution so that it follows the principles of Islamic law more strictly.

                The new document will also determine the rights of Egypt's religious and ethnic minority groups and the balance of power between the president - previously the supreme authority - and parliament.

                Once the assembly has produced a draft, it will be put to a referendum. It had been hoped that would take place before May's presidential election.


                The Administrative Court did not give the reasons for the ruling to suspend the constitutional assembly, stating only that it had halted "the implementation of the decision by the speaker of parliament" to form it and had referred the question of its legitimacy to a legal adviser.

                Campaigners nevertheless celebrated outside the court when news came through of the ruling, which followed complaints by political groups and constitutional experts over parliament's decision to select the assembly itself and to allocate half the seats to sitting MPs.

                The complaints said both moves violated Article 60 of the constitutional declaration adopted in a referendum last year - which does not state how the assembly should be appointed - and would also give Islamists unmatched influence over the constitution-drafting process.

                "The constituent assembly is unrepresentative of Egyptians," said the advisory council of the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.

                "A new constitutional declaration should be issued... specifying how the constituent assembly is formed. Article 60 of the current declaration was so vague that it has left the assembly in the hands of one force."

                The Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party said it would appeal against the court's decision, describing it as "political".

                Secular and liberal parties have already withdrawn from the assembly, believing that their presence was only conferring legitimacy on it. Some members are planning to draft an alternative with all parts of society.

                Al-Azhar University, one of Sunni Islam's most important institutions, and the Coptic Orthodox Church of Egypt have also announced a boycott.

                The FJP disputes that Islamists, who control 70% of the seats in parliament, dominate the constitutional assembly. It says only 48 members are Islamists - 36 from parliament and 12 others.


                • #83
                  A cold one?

                  Egypt’s women urge MPs not to pass early marriage, sex-after-death laws: report
                  Wednesday, 25 April 2012
                  The parliamentary attacks on women’s rights has drawn great criticism from women’s organizations in Egypt. (File photo)
                  The parliamentary attacks on women’s rights has drawn great criticism from women’s organizations in Egypt. (File photo)

                  By Abeer Tayel
                  Al Arabiya

                  Egypt’s National Council for Women (NCW) has appealed to the Islamist-dominated parliament not to approve two controversial laws on the minimum age of marriage and allowing a husband to have sex with his dead wife within six hours of her death according to a report in an Egyptian newspaper.

                  The appeal came in a message sent by Dr. Mervat al-Talawi, head of the NCW, to the Egyptian People’s Assembly Speaker, Dr. Saad al-Katatni, addressing the woes of Egyptian women, especially after the popular uprising that toppled president Hosni Mubarak in February 2011.

                  She was referring to two laws: one that would legalize the marriage of girls starting from the age of 14 and the other that permits a husband to have sex with his dead wife within the six hours following her death.

                  According to Egyptian columnist Amro Abdul Samea in al-Ahram, Talawi’s message included an appeal to parliament to avoid the controversial legislations that rid women of their rights of getting education and employment, under alleged religious interpretations.

                  “Talawi tried to underline in her message that marginalizing and undermining the status of women in future development plans would undoubtedly negatively affect the country’s human development, simply because women represent half the population,” Abdul Samea said in his article.

                  The controversy about a husband having sex with his dead wife came about after a Moroccan cleric spoke about the issue in May 2011.

                  Zamzami Abdul Bari said that marriage remains valid even after death adding that a woman also too had the same right to engage in sex with her dead husband.

                  Two years ago, Zamzami incited further controversy in Morocco when he said it was permissible for pregnant women to drink alcohol.

                  But it seems his view on partners having sex with their deceased partners has found its way to Egypt one year on.

                  Egyptian prominent journalist and TV anchor Jaber al-Qarmouty on Tuesday referred to Abdul Samea’s article in his daily show on Egyptian ON TV and criticized the whole notion of “permitting a husband to have sex with his wife after her death under a so-called ‘Farewell Intercourse’ draft law.”

                  “This is very serious. Could the panel that will draft the Egyptian constitution possibly discuss such issues? Did Abdul Samea see by his own eyes the text of the message sent by Talawi to Katatni? This is unbelievable. It is a catastrophe to give the husband such a right! Has the Islamic trend reached that far? Is there really a draft law in this regard? Are there people thinking in this manner?”

                  Many members of the newly-elected, and majority Islamist parliament, have been accused of launching attacks against women’s rights in the country.

                  They wish to cancel many, if not most, of the laws that promote women’s rights, most notably a law that allows a wife to obtain a divorce without obstructions from her partner. The implementation of the Islamic right to divorce law, also known as the Khula, ended years of hardship and legal battles women would have to endure when trying to obtain a divorce.

                  Egyptian law grants men the right to terminate a marriage, but grants women the opportunity to end an unhappy or abusive marriages without the obstruction of their partner. Prior to the implementation of the Khula over a decade ago, it could take 10 to 15 years for a woman to be granted a divorce by the courts.

                  Islamist members of Egyptian parliament, however, accuse these laws of “aiming to destroy families” and have said it was passed to please the former first lady of the fallen regime, Suzanne Mubarak, who devoted much of her attention to the issues of granting the women all her rights.

                  The parliamentary attacks on women’s rights has drawn great criticism from women’s organizations, who dismissed the calls and accused the MPs of wishing to destroy the little gains Egyptian women attained after long years of organized struggle.
                  To sit down with these men and deal with them as the representatives of an enlightened and civilized people is to deride ones own dignity and to invite the disaster of their treachery - General Matthew Ridgway


                  • #84
                    To be a little less than serious for a minute, I don't really get the draw of "farewell intercourse".

                    Zamzami Abdul Bari said that marriage remains valid even after death adding that a woman also too had the same right to engage in sex with her dead husband.
                    How can said woman make the penis stand up without blood flow to it?

                    On Egypt overall, it represents "the will of the people", for better or worse. I side with the points made early on about the Twitterers and bloggers not realizing how small a part of the population they truly were. It is something I notice with a lot of people on the internet that they're incredibly delusional. I hope most of us realize how small and insignificant we are in the grand scheme of things, but you find message boards even outside of politics of people for example going to this event and they're going to plan some protest or some chant so the owner guy will do what all the fans on that message board want and they ridicule the owner for not listening to them when it's clear so many of them want it, and then in a building of 20000 it's 3 or 4 people and after chanting for a few seconds realize no one's joining in and stop.
                    Last edited by rj1; 27 Apr 12,, 20:16.


                    • #85
                      Originally posted by rj1 View Post
                      To be a little less than serious for a minute, I don't really get the draw of "farewell intercourse".
                      Point is, nothing has been passed to this effect as yet.

                      They're 'thinking' about it :)

                      How many batshit crazy bills have you seen floating about that never see the light of day.

                      Originally posted by rj1 View Post
                      I side with the points made early on about the Twitterers and bloggers not realizing how small a part of the population they truly were. It is something I notice with a lot of people on the internet that they're incredibly delusional. I hope most of us realize how small and insignificant we are in the grand scheme of things, but you find message boards even outside of politics of people for example going to this event and they're going to plan some protest or some chant so the owner guy will do what all the fans on that message board want and they ridicule the owner for not listening to them when it's clear so many of them want it, and then in a building of 20000 it's 3 or 4 people and after chanting for a few seconds realize no one's joining in and stop.
                      Whether you're a 'delusional' liberal or a hardline islamist, Egypt, with all its chaos is just too unpredictable

                      SCAF just stopped the constituent assembly, what will they do next.


                      • #86
                        Originally posted by Double Edge View Post
                        Whether you're a 'delusional' liberal or a hardline islamist, Egypt, with all its chaos is just too unpredictable
                        It is, but we are allowed to speculate. My speculation is that these Egyptian liberals appear about as popular as American Greens or Libertarians (two groups that seem to exist a lot more on the internet than they do in real life and in real life have no power).

                        Where's their power? They have none. They don't have legislators, they don't have votes, and they don't have guns unless they back the military, which they're not going to without becoming hypocrites. And then what is going to happen? El-Baradei will criticize the Europeans and Americans for not doing anything? F*ck off (to him). If you have control of the country, your party decides what's going to happen, that's true if you're in Egypt just as if you're in the Netherlands. So the party in power is just not going to use their power? That has not happened often in the history of the world. It doesn't happen in the U.S. at least anymore and I know it doesn't happen in your country based off what a couple of my co-workers from India tell me about the politics there.

                        Here, I'll put this in other terms. The hardline Islamists right now are the Indian cricket team. The liberals are the U.S. cricket team. Officially, the result of the game is in doubt until it's over, but a person can look at it ahead of time and know who's going to win. I'd love to be wrong, but none of El-Baradei's bowlers can pull off a hat trick and none of his batters are getting a century.

                        The other route is the military decides to overthrow them in a coup, which is all very Turkish, but that then plays into the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood and other like-minded groups in the region because they can say the military is not upholding the rule of democracy.
                        Last edited by rj1; 30 Apr 12,, 20:31.


                        • #87
                          More recent developments

                          More disqualified candidates: elections make even less sense now | El Dahshan Blog | April 17, 2012

                          Egypt’s presidential elections will take place less than four weeks from now and we still don’t know who’s running. As I’ve said before in this column (this sentence is fast becoming a fixture of my assessment of Egyptian politics): if it sounds ridiculous, that’s because it is.

                          So far the list of candidates being served up by the Electoral Commission seems as changeable as the menu du jour of a capricious chef. The Commission’s website, with no irony whatsoever, is displaying a blank candidate list on its homepage with the date “26 April 2012″ [its still blank as of today] in small characters below it, the date the final list is to be announced.

                          Over the weekend, the electoral commission disqualified 10 of 23 presidential candidates for not fulfilling the conditions to run for election. The commission gave them two days to submit appeals. By law, the decisions of the commission are final.

                          The three critical candidates to be disqualified are:

                          Omar Suleiman, Mubarak’s intelligence chief, chief enforcer and vice president during the last days of his reign, was disqualified for failing to achieve the required geographical distribution of his signed declarations of support. He was short one governate. (He’s shown in the poster held by one of his supporters in the image above.)

                          Hazem Salah Aboul Ismail, a niche television preacher who skyrocketed to the rank of a serious contender thanks to a fiery religious speech that sharply attacked both the West and Egypt’s current military-dominated government, was disqualified because his deceased mother turned out to have acquired U.S. citizenship before she died. The electoral law requires that the candidate and both of his or her parents should be Egyptian nationals.

                          The Muslim Brotherhood’s Khairat El-Shater was removed for having served a criminal sentence under Mubarak. It’s widely believed that the charges in question were trumped-up, just the sort of thing the old dictatorial regime used to discredit its opponents. But the crime still counts as a crime, and so it falls under the election law prohibitions.

                          Two days before the commission made it decision, a new law was passed banning Mubarak-era officials from running for office, which would affect both Suleiman and Ahmed Shafiq, Mubarak’s last prime minister, who is also running in the elections. (In order to come into force, however, the law needs to be approved by the ruling military junta, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which is unlikely to approve it.)

                          While none of the disqualified has conceded, we’re now left to puzzle out the rest of the field. Just to be clear: the three disqualified candidates were the front-runners in the election, so now we have to sort out the most likely contenders from the second-rank figures who are left. Chief among these are Amr Moussa, former Arab League secretary general and Mubarak’s Minister of Foreign Affairs for a decade; Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, a long-term Muslim Brotherhood leader who was expelled last year for deciding to run again the organisation’s wishes; then, bringing up the rear, are Khaled Ali, lawyer and activist, and Hamdeen Sabahy, a Nasserite journalist.

                          And already the Muslim Brotherhood is scrambling to put forward its backup candidate, Freedom and Justice Party President Mohamed Morsi — earning him the moniker of “the spare wheel” in social media circles.

                          Now what? With the three frontrunners gone (pending appeal, of course), voters and political groups are scrambling to identify their second-best choicse. Amr Moussa, who dominated opinion polls in 2011 but whose thunder was stolen by Islamist and army candidates, emerges as the most likely beneficiary of the disqualifications. He’ll probably be making an effort not to seem too giddy in the coming days. Abdel Moneim Aboul Foutouh, who despite his decades-long membership in the Muslim Brotherhood is widely seen as the closest thing to a “revolutionary” candidate as we’re going to get, will have to work diligently to try to poach some of Shater’s and Abou Ismail’s supporters, especially since the Muslim Brotherhood appears to be dragging its feet with regards to Morsi’s nomination.

                          The entire process looks remarkably haphazard, a bit like an election for class president. Minus the well-developed electoral programs, of course.

                          There is one thing to be said in favor of the electoral process, though: for the first time in decades, we don’t know who will win the elections months before they’ve taken place.
                          Last edited by Double Edge; 01 May 12,, 17:48.


                          • #88
                            Profile of a promising candidate

                            Abul Fotouh: an Islamist who stakes claim to Egypt middle ground | Al Arabiya | May 1 2012

                            Tom Perry, Reuters CAIRO

                            Abdul Moniem Abul Fotouh was jailed by Hosni Mubarak but has emerged as a front-runner for his old job as president of Egypt, staking claim to the political center in this nascent democracy with a moderate Islamist platform that has found broad appeal. A senior figure in the Muslim Brotherhood until he parted ways with the group last year, he is part of the generation of Islamist activists that spawned al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. Both doctors, they spent time in adjoining jail cells in 1981. For the most part, that’s where the similarities end. Abul Fotouh presents himself as a champion of moderate Islam, yet he has been able to win the backing of hardliners thanks partly to a political brain which many say sets him apart from the Brotherhood. Even some liberals, impressed by his reformist zeal, say they could vote for the bespectacled 60-year old.

                            With his presidential bid, he is charting new waters for the Islamist mainstream, reaching out to the tens of millions of Egyptians who played no role in politics in Mubarak's days but are expected to flock to the polls for the May 23-24 vote.

                            “It’s the Egyptian mainstream I am banking on, the ones I have been working to win over since I started my campaign, who make up more than 90 percent of Egyptians ... who understand (Islamic) sharia law correctly,” he said in an April 23 television interview. “Wherever we look out for people’s interests, we serve them, we are implementing God’s law.”

                            If the sketchy opinion polls that are available are anything to go by, Abul Fotouh is doing well. A poll published on Monday by a state-run research center showed him second to ex-Arab League chief Amr Moussa and polling well ahead of Mohammed Mursi, the candidate fielded by the Muslim Brotherhood.

                            Abul Fotouh was expelled from the group last year over his decision to seek the presidency - a move that defied its wishes.

                            At that stage, the Brotherhood had decided against running. Abul Fotouh’s departure from the Brotherhood seemed an inevitable step for a reform-minded politician who had been at odds with the conservatives who still run the movement.

                            “He is not afraid of anyone,” said Mohammed Habib, a former deputy head of the Brotherhood, recalling two occasions in 2009 when Abul Fotouh had clashed with Mahdi Akef, then the leader of the group. “He is brave and decisive,” added Habib, who also left the group last year and plans to vote for Abul Fotouh.

                            As a student leader in the 1970s, Abul Fotouh is remembered for confronting President Anwar Sadat in a debate, famously telling him he was surrounded by hypocrites.

                            In 1981, he was arrested by the Sadat government in a crackdown against dissidents. Under Mubarak, his activism landed him in jail twice for a total of more than six years.

                            Campaigning under the slogan “Strong Egypt,” Abul Fotouh has stressed the need to finish the country’s unfinished revolution by rooting out remnants of the Mubarak era from the state.

                            He pledges to increase health and education spending, to make Egypt’s army the most powerful in the region and to turn its economy into one of the 20 strongest in the world. His program says he will adhere to Islamic law.

                            Like other candidates, he has called for a review of Egypt’s 1979 peace treaty with Israel, which he says was “imposed” on Egypt.[with $2B/annual, this must be some imposition ]

                            While the Brotherhood has faced broad criticism for alienating other parties in the year since Mubarak was toppled, Abul Fotouh is credited with reaching out across the political spectrum.

                            His efforts appear to be paying dividends. While the Brotherhood’s Mursi has tried to cast himself as the only Islamist in the race, Abul Fotouh managed to convince leading hardline Salafi groups they should endorse him instead.

                            The Nour Party, a Salafi group that won a fifth of the seats in parliament, has endorsed him. So too has al-Gamaa al-Islamiya, a Salafi group that took up arms against the state but disavowed violence in 1997.

                            The Wasat Party, a centrist party run by ex-Brotherhood members who left in the 1990s, has also endorsed Abul Fotouh.

                            A member of the Brotherhood’s executive board from 1987 to 2009, Abul Fotouh still commands respect in the group. His candidacy is also endorsed by Sheikh Yousef al-Qaradawi, a cleric held in high regard by Brotherhood followers.

                            “In terms of ideology, there is little difference to me between Mursi and Abdul Moniem. As for the organization, of course there is a difference, but the idea is the same,” Helmi al-Gazzar, a Brotherhood member of parliament, told Reuters.

                            Habib, the former Brotherhood leader, said much of Abul Fotouh’s Islamist vision tallied with the Brotherhood’s, though he was more liberal than some of its members on issues such as the right of Christians and women to seek the presidency.

                            In a recently published book, Abul Fotouh reflects on how he had once been hostile towards Sufism, or Islamic mysticism, but moderated his views after meeting Sufi Muslims at university.

                            Some of his critics say Abul Fotouh is trying to be all things to all people. But he says there has been no change in his views since he quit the Brotherhood.

                            In his April 23 interview, Abul Fotouh said: “I have not changed my principles or ideas regardless of my administrative link: whether I was Brotherhood or now I am outside the administration of the Brotherhood.”

                            He added: “I don’t think there is a fair liberal, or a fair Salafi, or a fair leftist, who says Dr. Abdul Moniem says one thing and hides another.”


                            • #89
                              Double Edge, et al,

                              While I have often written about the evolution of terrorist and terrorist organizations, usually evolving in the direction of a better ideology, one has to be very cautious of the Tiger that Changes its Spots.

                              Originally posted by Double Edge View Post
                              Profile of a promising candidate

                              Abul Fotouh: an Islamist who stakes claim to Egypt middle ground | Al Arabiya | May 1 2012

                              Abul Fotouh was expelled from the group last year over his decision to seek the presidency - a move that defied its wishes.

                              At that stage, the Brotherhood had decided against running. Abul Fotouh’s departure from the Brotherhood seemed an inevitable step for a reform-minded politician who had been at odds with the conservatives who still run the movement.

                              While the Brotherhood has faced broad criticism for alienating other parties in the year since Mubarak was toppled, Abul Fotouh is credited with reaching out across the political spectrum.

                              We should not be too anxious to hop on the band wagon of Abul Fotouh. In fact, we should keep our distance and our mouth shut. The US is notoriously poor at picking good foreign leaders. One needs only look at al-Maliki (Iraq) and Karzai (Afghanistan); both of whom attended power under the US watch and are miserable leaders.

                              Most Respectfully,


                              • #90
                                Saudi embassy would never have been threatened under the ancien regime.

                                Its a brave new world now :Dancing-Banana:

                                Saudi Arabia to reopen Egypt embassy after protests | BBC | 4 May 2012

                                Saudi Arabia to reopen Egypt embassy after protests

                                Saudi Arabia has announced it will reopen its embassy in Cairo after it was shut last week following protests.

                                The Saudi ambassador was recalled after protesters gathered to demand the release of an Egyptian human rights lawyer being held in the kingdom.

                                According to state news agency SPA, Saudi King Abdullah ordered the reopening of the embassy and consulates in Alexandria and Suez from Sunday.

                                A high-level Egyptian delegation had visited the kingdom to defuse tensions.

                                Egyptian human rights lawyer Ahmed al-Gizawi was detained on arrival in Saudi Arabia in early April and accused of insulting King Abdullah.

                                His family says he had gone to perform a pilgrimage, but Saudi authorities say Mr Gizawi was found by airport officials to be carrying drugs - allegedly more than 20,000 anti-anxiety pills - in his luggage.

                                Safety fears
                                Egyptian activists say he was held after lodging a complaint against Saudi Arabia for its treatment of Egyptians in its prisons.

                                Many Egyptians work in Saudi Arabia and some claim they have been mistreated under Saudi law.

                                After the protest outside the Saudi embassy in Cairo, the Saudis recalled their ambassador and closed the embassy and consulates citing safety concerns.

                                A high-level delegation led by Egyptian parliament speaker Saad al-Katatni and the head of the consultative council Ahmed Fahmi travelled to Saudi Arabia to meet the king and try to defuse the situation.

                                However, there has been no word yet on the fate of Mr Gizawi who is thought to still be in custody in Saudi Arabia.

                                Observers say this has been the worst diplomatic falling-out between the two regional allies since Saudi Arabia severed ties after Egypt signed a peace deal with Israel in 1979.