Egyptian Aak 2014 – Week 34 ( Aug 18-24)

 Main Headlines

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

 Sunday

Good Reports

Good Read

Plus:

Posted in Diary of Aak, Egypt, Gaza | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Egyptian Aak 2014 – Week 33 ( August 11-17) Rabaa Anniversary

Rabaa anniverssary

( Photo of Cairo clashes in the anniversary of Rabaa via AP)

Main Headlines

 Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

 Good Reports

Good read

Plus:

Photo Heritage

Book Review

  • Inside The Arab Revolution – a Book By Koert Debeuf. Nehad Ismail
Posted in Diary of Aak, Egypt | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Profile: Hamas’s Mohammed Deif

Hamas's Deif

A rare video image of Deif in 2005 via Ma’an News

The war in Gaza has brought the focus back on Hamas’s military wing, the Qassam Brigades, and its mysterious leader Mohammed Al-Deif. Here is a collection of old and new profile analyses about him from various sources. 

Posted in Gaza, Hamas, Palestine | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Egyptian Aak 2014- Week 32 ( August 4 -10)

Suez Canal

( Info-graphic of Suez Canal Project, via Al-Arabiya)

Main Headlines

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday 

Saturday

 Sunday

 Good Reports

Good Read

Plus

Photo Gallery

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Sisi, Islamic Jihad, and Gaza

Islamic Jihad and Hamas in Cairo

(Islamic Jihad and Hamas delegation in Cairo, via Twitter)

The war in Gaza has highlighted the tense relationship between Egypt and the Palestinian factions, mainly Hamas, in Gaza. However, it seems Cairo does not view all factions with one lens, and it is clear Egypt’s relationship with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad appears to be less acrimonious. Many pundits misjudged the nature of dynamics between Egypt and Israel, and viewed them as allies in the war in Gaza. Although Egypt and Israel may share some interests, they differ on many aspects of the Gaza conundrum, and Islamic Jihad is one of them.

 Israel regards all militant groups in Gaza as terrorists, a view to which Egypt does not necessarily subscribe. According to Hussein Ibish, senior fellow at the American Task Force on Palestine, Egypt’s effort to negotiate a truce is not a foreign policy question. “This is not an external affair,” Mr. Ibish said recently. “This is a national security issue that is domestic and internal from their [Egypt’s] point of view.” This is precisely why President Sisi cannot afford to burn bridges with all of Gaza’s factions. He needs, at least, one friendly faction.

 Can this faction be the Islamic Jihad? Yes. Following Hamas’ takeover of Gaza, Egypt’s favorite Palestinian group, Fatah, has become less influential inside the impoverished strip, and has been replaced by other militant groups such as the Islamic Jihad. President Morsi’s ousting in Egypt was a huge setback for Hamas, but surprisingly not the Islamic Jihad. A few days after the coup in Egypt, senior Islamic Jihad leader Khader Habib described the events there as an internal crisis his faction did not want to meddle in.

 Major-General Sameh Seif El-Yazal, Director of Al-Gomhoria’s Center for Political and Security Studies in Cairo, stated that all the Palestinians arrested in Sinai and Egypt over the past few years were not members of the Islamic Jihad movement. “Islamic Jihad did not harm Egypt’s national Interests,” he said in a TV interview on Rotana Masriya TV on August 4. El-Yazal’s statement contradicts Egyptian army claims last year that terrorist elements in Sinai were using heavy weapons belonging to the Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip. This contradiction may be a misjudgment by El-Yazal, but it can be a deliberate tactic by the Egyptian leadership; part of Sisi’s standard policy of maintaining good relations with one Islamist faction, at least, just like his alliance with the Salafi Nour Party in Egypt. There are indications that Salafi Nour party has good relation with Islamic Jihad, and it could have played a rule in smoothing the relations between Egypt and Islamic Jihad ___ although, there are no strong evidences to support this assumption.

 Like all his predecessors, Sisi does not want to inherit Gaza, but he does want to maintain the impoverished strip within his regional influence. Sisi has managed to secure an initial victory by heading negotiations in Cairo between Israel and a united Palestinian delegation that includes not just Hamas, but also the Islamic Jihad and the Palestinian authority. All the previous negotiations (in 2008 and 2012) were mainly with Hamas; therefore, Sisi has actually managed to dilute Hamas within a wider group that is mostly friendly to him.

The outcome of the negotiations means little to President Sisi, as all scenarios are not bad for him. If a deal is reached, he can claim credit for its success. However, if the talks fail, it is not such bad news: Sisi will not just blame Israel and Hamas for the failure of the talks; he will also happily watch Israel sink more into the Gaza swamp. Israel’s occupation of Gaza will actually be Egypt’s best possible outcome. It will relieve the Egyptian authority from the headache of who and how to run the Rafah border between Gaza and Sinai, and will be perfect for Sinai’s security by ending the smuggling of weapons and militants from Gaza.

 Even in a potentially nightmarish third scenario of a continuing war of attrition between Hamas and Israel, the implications for Sisi are not all negative. He will continue to play for time until Hamas or Israel decides to compromise and meet again in Cairo to forge an agreement. Within that context, other groups such as the Islamic Jihad are important for Sisi. He needs eyes and ears inside the strip. The leaked news that Hamas has executed its former leader, Ayman Taha, for allegedly spying for Egypt, will possibly prompt Sisi and his intelligence apparatus to find alternatives, not necessarily inside Hamas, but at least inside Gaza. Even if the Islamic Jihad refuses to play ‘the spy role,” the fact that they are friendly to Sisi will put psychological pressure on Hamas.

 The Gaza crisis has highlighted President Sisi’s sheer pragmatism and ruthlessness. He does not judge the Palestinian factions by their ideology or tactics, nor does he treat Israel as a friend or foe. These are all irrelevant issues ____ the goal for Sisi is not for Israel to win or for Hamas to lose, but for the conflict to be a win-win for his Egypt. Sisi is, and will always be, a political realist motivated by what he perceives as his national interests.

Posted in Egypt, Gaza, Middle East, Palestine | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

Egyptian Aak 2014- Week 31( July 28- Aug 3)

 

Eid prayer in Egypt  1

( Eid prayer in Egypt, via Aswat Masryia)

Main Headlines

 Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

Good Reports

Good read

Plus

Video

Photo Gallery

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Egyptian Aak 2014 – Week 30 ( July 21-27)

 

Sisi and Kerry

(Photo via Reuters)

Main Headlines

 Monday

 Tuesday

 Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

 Sunday

 Good report

Good read

Book Review

 Review of Galal Amin’s Book: Whatever Happened to Egypt’s Revolution? By Eric Trager

Video

 Plus:

And, another July 23 in Egypt

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Special Edition: Gaza

Gaza

Photo via AP

After 18 days of bloodshed, Israel and Hamas have agreed to a 12- hours pause in Gaza. I took this opportunity, to collect articles that are, in my opinion, worth reading about the crisis in Gaza. 

And you may be interested to read my piece, Gaza, the Gordian knot

Photo Essay

Poll:

  • Gaza conflict: West Bank Palestinians Divided and Ambivalent. Arab World for research and development.

Plus:

Video

Finally

Posted in Gaza | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Egyptian Aak 2014- Week 29 ( July 14 – 20)

 

Soldiers funeral

( President Sisi attends the funerals of Egyptians soldiers killed yesterday near Libya.

Via Shorouk)

Main Headlines

 Monday

Tuesday

 Wednesday

 Thursday

Friday

Saturday

 Sunday

 Good report

 Good read

Plus:

  • Why Hamas rejected the ceasefire?Marc Schulman
  • The heartbreak of arranged marriage in Egypt. Sara Khorshid (from July 13)

Finally, here are Jayson Casper’s prayers for Egypt.

Posted in Diary of Aak, Egypt | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Gaza, the Gordian knot

PALESTINIAN-ISRAEL-CONFLICT-GAZA

  (Photo via AFP)

Published in Daily News Egypt

Gaza___ the formula of a quick fix and hope for the best has failed. The simple fact that the recent war in the Gaza strip is the third in six years is enough proof of the futility of one lull after another. The civilians in Gaza cannot handle another dose of a pain remedy that eases the immediate anguish while allowing both sides to claim a fake victory.

 Where is Omar Suleiman? Where is Morsi? The quest to find a responsible power to broker a ceasefire is simply futile. Throughout the last six years Hamas and Israel have tried to get away with their mistakes and expected external mediators to bail them out. Now Hamas is fighting for its survival and any compromise can ultimately end its rule of Gaza. Netanyahu, if he fails to restore calm, also fears for his political career. There are no mediators that can forge successful, subsequent deals with irresponsible enemies who rush to fight, while looking for a ceasefire deal. Gaza is a story of two sides that shoot themselves in the foot.

 On the one hand, Israel’s disengagement from Gaza in 2005 without a permanent peace deal with the Palestinians was a cynical gamble to offload from its shoulders a huge chunk of the Palestinian population. It clearly did not work. The failure to reach peace has thus yielded irrational, radical resistance movements. Israel now continues to believe that shelling the deprived strip, despite mounting civilian casualties, will deter Hamas. This has not worked either.

 On the other hand, Hamas deliberately ignores what is evident in that it cannot be a governing body and a resistance movement in the same time. The Islamist group is paying the price for its ill-fated takeover of Gaza from its rival Fatah in 2007. Even after the 2012 ceasefire deal, and despite having its patron Morsi in power for many months after, and along with a high–profile visit from the Emir of Qatar, Hamas did not build a single shelter in Gaza to protect its citizens. Hamas fails to appreciate that acting as a conventional army, and firing long-range missiles into the heart of Israel without having defense capabilities, would earn the group a shared responsibility for Israel retaliation.

 Those who look for Egyptian mediation overlook the fact that two previous confrontations have made a lull a predictable outcome, and this narrows the window of palatable compromises that can be accepted by both sides. Needless to say, many in Egypt have harshly criticized all the previous Egyptian mediations. The Mubarak formula of closing the border, tolerating the smuggling, and concurrently maintaining friendly links with Israel, was considered hypocritical. Later, political Islamists who labeled Mubarak as traitor for mediating with Israel, loved the idea of Morsi the “mediator” during the 2012 confrontation, and maintained a low key, almost muted criticism of Israeli aggression, which was also considered hypocritical by many Egyptians, especially after a ceasefire deal that technically limited the Palestinian’s “right of resistance.”

 It is not just the hostility between the current leadership under Abdel Fatah El-Sisi and Hamas leaders in Gaza that make any Egyptian mediation difficult. Hamas has ruled Egypt out as negotiator for a ceasefire. The attempt to smuggle rockets from Gaza, and to launch rockets from Sinai to Israel, will not entice the Egyptian authorities to help Hamas. Furthermore, the Muslim Brotherhood exploits the crisis to compensate for their failure to gather substantial protests on the anniversary of the ousting of Morsi on July 3. It is no coincidence that both the Brotherhood and Turkish leaderships advocate the 2012 ceasefire agreement that Morsi, undeservedly, gained credit for. Any new lull negotiated by Sisi on the basis of the “Morsi’s deal” will be counterproductive for Sisi and his political clout inside Egypt.

 Gaza has become a real Gordian knot. The chronicity of the problem and the suffering of civilians have worked in favor of Hamas; whitewashing its political errors, and highlighting to the Israelis the limitations of their ugly, albeit futile deterrence. Despite the bluffing, most Israelis will not tolerate the heavy casualties that are likely if they were to reoccupy the Gaza strip. Nonetheless, as

Hisham Melhem has pointed out, every time Hamas lobs rockets into Israel hoping to change the Israeli calculus, the exercise ends in failure.

 It is unclear how the tragedy of Gaza will end. It is safe to say, however, with a certain degree of certainty that regardless of the outcome, the rules of the game have changed. Neither Hamas nor Israel can get away permanently with the “rockets versus strikes” formula in a region that has dramatically shifted. New players, new alliances, and new threats will ultimately force both sides to stop their cynical gambles. In addition, Hamas will not be able to exploit the tenacity of the Gazans forever.

 There is so little that Egypt and other regional and international forces have left that can save both sides from self-inflicting harm, nonetheless they can focus on the civilian population and work to alleviate their misery. Sisi is quietly trying to detangle Gaza from Hamas. He is doing this by intermittently opening the border, and sending food and medical supplies to struggling civilians. That is not enough. Despite security risks, Egypt needs to keep the border open and maintain its humanitarian support. The scenes of Palestinian civilians trapped at the Rafah border are unacceptable. The Egyptian army can help the weak, the elderly, and the injured. A field hospital at the border may be needed if the situation deteriorates.

 There are moments in history that force stakeholders to rethink their tactics and their general attitude; this crisis is one of those moments. Gaza deserves our help. Feckless warlords do not.

Posted in Egypt, Gaza, Hamas, Israel | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment