These are all the Blogs posted on Wednesday, 8, 2012.
Wednesday, 8 August 2012
Egyptian Intelligence Chief Didn't Think Muslims Would Attack Other Muslims At Iftar Dinner
August 8, 2012
Egypt's president fires intelligence chief
By HAMZA HENDAWI, Associated Press
CAIRO (AP) — Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi fired his intelligence chief and the governor of Northern Sinai on Wednesday following a weekend attack by suspected militants in Sinai who killed 16 soldiers.
In a major shake-up, Morsi also asked Defense Minister Hussein Tantawi to replace the commander of the military police, a force that has been heavily used since the ouster 18 months ago of Hosni Mubarak to deal with street protests. Rights activists have accused the military police of brutality against protesters.
Morsi also fired the commander of the presidential guards and ordered new chiefs for security in Cairo and the police's large central security, a large paramilitary force often deployed to deal with riots.
Large swathes of northern Sinai have plunged into lawlessness following Mubarak's ouster, with a massive flow of arms smuggled from Libya finding their way into the hands of disgruntled Bedouins. The lawlessness is coupled with the rise in the area of al-Qaida-inspired militant groups that are waging a campaign of violence against Egyptian security forces. They have also staged several cross-border attacks on Israel.
Wednesday's decisions were announced hours after Egyptian attack helicopters carried out missile strikes against militants in Sinai as part of an offensive to restore control over the territory, according to a military statement. The use of air power marked a sharp escalation in Egypt's fight against the militants, who have become increasingly active in the mountainous and desert Sinai peninsula bordering Israel and Gaza.
In a statement read out on state TV, the military said it has started a joint military-police ground operation in Sinai, backed by warplanes, to "restore stability and regain control" of the Sinai.
Morsi's decision to fire senior officials was the Islamist president's first major assertion of his authority since taking office on June 30 to succeed Hosni Mubarak, who ruled Egypt for 29 years before he was ousted in a popular uprising in February 2011. The decision appeared aimed at deflecting a wave of popular anger over the Sinai attack, the deadliest attack ever on the military from within Egypt.
The generals who took over from Mubarak and ruled Egypt for 17 months stripped the presidency of many of its powers just before Morsi was declared the election winner and they retained those powers for themselves.
However, Wednesday's decisions were taken following a meeting of the National Defense Council which includes Morsi, top army commanders and senior intelligence officials. The decision-making at that meeting reflects a level of cooperation between the president, a longtime leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, and the powerful generals in the face of rising tensions.
Military officers outnumber civilians on the newly created council, which takes decisions by a simple majority. That means that the powerful generals were on board for all the decisions made Wednesday.
The surprise changes followed the killing on Sunday of 16 soldiers at a post in Sinai close to where the Egyptian, Israel and Gaza borders meet. It raised questions about the readiness of Egyptian forces in the area, particularly after Israel warned the country several days earlier an attack was imminent.
The attackers killed the soldiers as they were breaking their daily fast for the holy month of Ramadan with a sunset meal. The attackers commandeered an armored vehicle which they later used to storm across the border into Israel. They were then targeted by an Israeli airstrike that killed at least six militants.
The intelligence chief that Morsi fired, Murad Muwafi, was quoted in Wednesday's newspapers as saying his agency was aware of the Israeli warning but did not think that Muslims would attack Muslims while they were breaking their fast during Ramadan.
Surprisingly, Morsi did not attend the state funeral given to the troops on Tuesday, drawing harsh criticism in the media and on social networks.
Morsi may have stayed away for security concerns. At the funeral secured by military police, some mourners chanted slogans against Morsi. Prime Minister Hesham Kandil was heckled and some mourners threw their shoes at him or held them up as a sign of contempt.
"Whoever feeds a fasting person will have a reward like that of the fasting person, without any reduction in his reward."
I'd like to point out a couple of things.
1) Fasting is a voluntary act. They're just fasting not starving. And if you feed a fasting person, aren't you encouraging them to break their fast and thus ruin whatever symbolic purification they're trying to achieve?
2) Fasting people should actually fast, not just re-arrange the hours when they eat. During Ramadan nobody goes without food for even 24 hours. They just have gigantic feasts after sundown sometimes lasting until dawn. How does this overindulgence qualify as a fast?
Given events next door in bloody Syria and concerns in Israel, what is Hezbollah’s position in Lebanon?
Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal had commentary by Ms. Fhanaz Fassihi, award-winning American Iranian staff writer covering the Middle East from Beirut, “An Ally Holsters Its Weapons”. Her thesis lent the impression that Hezbollah was keeping its powder dry, not wanting to perpetrate another disatrous conflict like the brief Second Lebanon war in 2006. Hezbollah may not become involved in the bloody conflict of its ally Syria,unless pressured by Iran’s Supreme Ruler Khamanei to intervene. Fassihi noted:
Hezbollah, one of the Mideast's most powerful and polarizing Islamic movements has a dilemma. The group has long enjoyed military and financial support from the governments of Iran and Syria. But as fighting rages in Syria, and the international community intensifies its standoff with Iran, Hezbollah may be approaching a moment of truth: Will it fight for these backers?
One of the best-trained fighting groups in the Middle East, Hezbollah was created to oppose Israel's long occupation of Lebanon, and says its militant wing is necessary as long as Lebanon and Israel are officially at war. It has historically received arms shipments and political support from Syria and Iran.
So far, Hezbollah has feared that springing to Syria's aid could ignite a sectarian war within Lebanon or drag Lebanon into another war with Israel, say people close to the group.
Since its founding, Hezbollah has leaned heavily on money from Iran. And it has rearmed, working closely with Syria. In a recent speech, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said the group now possesses missiles that "could reach any location" in Israel.
Tensions flared between Israel and Hezbollah in July when a bomb targeted Israeli tourists in Bulgaria, killing five Israelis and injuring dozens of vacationers. Israel accused Hezbollah of carrying out the attack, but Bulgarian investigators continue to investigate.
"Hezbollah doesn't want to answer the question of whether to fight or not. It's not within our interest to say," said a high-level Hezbollah official. "We are not proxies. We are not tools. We know our domestic interests, and Iran and Syria respect that."
Actively fighting for the Syrian regime could jeopardize the political clout Hezbollah has gained in the past two years in Lebanon, where its political wing now effectively controls the government. Hezbollah officials say they are now focused on parliamentary elections in spring of 2013.
"Hezbollah knows if it gets involved in a regional war it will pay a very heavy price and so will its constituents," said Timor Goksel, a professor at the American University of Beirut. "It just can't be responsible for such a disaster for its own people."
"They will not fight for Syria. But for Iran, they will go to the end," said Nohad Mashnouq, a parliamentarian with the March 14 faction, the dominant Sunni political group, which is opposed to Hezbollah.
That assessment from Fassihi in Beirut came before Yisroel Hayom and other Israeli news media reported disclosure today of a Shin Bet and National Police raid on a network of Israeli Arab Drug smugglers caught bringing in explosives from Hezbollah in Lebanon. Yisroel Hayom headlined that “Israeli Intelligence Cracked Massive Hezbollah Bomb Plot”:
In "Operation Time Bomb," police and Israel Security Agency arrest 14 Israeli Arab members of terrorist cell that smuggled weapons and explosives from Lebanon into Israel • Security services disrupt plot before bombs get to their handler, foiling plans to carry out huge wave of terrorist attacks against Israeli targets.
Clearly this raises questions about how porous the northern Israeli border is for Hezbollah infiltration and the continuing security problem of Israeli Arab loyalty.
We asked two American experts for their views on Hezbollah’s strategy.
Shoshana Bryen, Senior Director of the Washington, DC, Jewish Policy Center commented:
In this case, I think Hezbollah is keeping its powder dry because it is the last powder it will get – resupply is heavily dependent on the land bridge from Syria, so having Tehran's favor is worth much less when the planes can't land in Damascus and ship materiel on trucks. Sea delivery is nearly impossible as Israel, the US and Cyprus (among others) have been intercepting weapons ships for some time now. The Russians haven't been helpful to Hezbollah on this count.
As for Syrian weapons going to Lebanon, the Syrian army needs what it has of its conventional arsenal. Iit is possible that Assad is moving arms in anticipation of a long-term guerrilla war back home. So he might move them to Lebanese soil that is friendly to him, i.e., Hezbollahland, but there is no indication that the arms movements are designed to help someone else win a different war.
Serious movement of non-conventional arms to Hezbollah would likely trigger an Israeli (or American) response.
Hezbollah is on shaky ground inside Lebanon. Even Lebanese Shiites don't want another war with Israel. Amos Yadlin's last comment on the rocket/missile threat to Israel was 1,000 serious missiles (nothing to sneeze at) and 9,000 other potential problems from Lebanon and Gaza combined. His point was that it is a far cry from the 40-80,000 rockets and missiles Hezbollah/Hamas claims, and it is a threat Israel can manage.
Clare Lopez, ex-CIA analyst and Senior Fellow at the Washington, DC –based Center for Security Policy had this view:
I think "Holstering its Weapons" is the wrong image...."Keeping its Powder Dry" is more like it.
Yes, the loss of Assad in Damascus will deal a serious setback to Hezbollah. However, as long as Hezbollah has Tehran behind it, they'll find a way to continue.
In any case, Nasrallah is on YouTube video vowing to carry out retaliation should Israel and/or the US attack Iran, whether or not Hezbollah gets direct orders from Khamanei to whom he's pledged bayat (loyalty) publicly, more than once.
And as reporting would have it, the truck convoys south out of Syria into Hizballahland never stop rolling, do they? I'm sure they're just moving the family art collection to safe keeping. I also suspect much of the material in those Syrian truck convoys (just as it was with Saddam) is WMD-related. Probably mostly Chemical Warfare agents and precursors, but also the nuclear stuff...centrifuge parts, etc . Who knows where the Biological Warfare agents go....scientists' home fridges? Nobody ever thought to check Saddam's prisons, so Assad probably feels safe keeping biological warfare agents there, nice and close to the test populations.
Reliable Aly Raisman, American Jewish Olympic Gold Medalist Honors Munich 11
US Gymnast Team Captain and Gold Medalist
My family in Needham, Massachusetts are justly proud of 18 year old US Women’s Gymnast team captain, Aly Raisman, so our her zaydie (grandfather) Marty Raisman and bubbe (grandmother) Susan Faber on her mother Ricky’s side. Aly Raisman has earned the praise of colleagues and coaches earning the sobriquet of ‘reliable” for her fearless ability to dig in and do amazing turns on the balance beam and especially her floor exercises that earned her both team and individual gold medals, along with the bronze for the balance beam third place finish.
A lot of us were taken with her performances in the floor exercises to the strains of Hava Nagila along with rhythmic clapping. There was also that dancing Israeli flag that those watching her in the London 2012 Olympics spied in the bleachers above the performance floor.
Raisman endeared herself to viewers when she took her final gold medal earned in the final individual floor performance and placed it around the neck of her Olympics coach.
However, probably the proudest and most touching moment came when she was interviewed following her final gold medal award when she commented about the controversy over the moment of silent for the 11 Israeli athletes slain during the 1972 Munich Olympics by Palestinian Terrorists. The JTA reported, “Raisman says she was for Munich 11 moment of silence”:
Raisman was speaking to reporters Tuesday following her gold medal performance in the floor exercise.
“Having that floor music wasn’t intentional,” she said of her floor routine to the music of "Hava Nagila," the New York Post reported Wednesday. “But the fact it was on the 40th anniversary is special, and winning the gold today means a lot to me. If there had been a moment’s silence, I would have supported it and respected it.”
A memorial ceremony for the 11 Israeli athletes and coaches murdered in Munich was held Monday in London, organized by the Israeli Embassy in London and the National Olympic Committee of Israel along with the London Jewish community.
International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge held a moment of silence for the Israelis at a small ceremony in the Olympic Village late last month, but he said a moment of silence at the opening ceremonies in London would not be appropriate. He spoke at Monday's memorial.
International politicians and public figures, including President Obama and presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, and the governments of several countries had called for an official moment of silence at the London opening.
Someone who took note of Raisman’s comments and solidarity was Guri Weinberg, son of Moshe Weinberg, one of the 11 Israelis murdered by Palestinian terrorists at the Munich games in 1972. In this Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) interview Weinberg publicly thanks US Olympian Aly Raisman for her statement of solidarity with the Munich 11 just after she received her Gold Medal for gymnastics.
Watch this SWC YouTube interview. Guri also thanks the Italian Olympic team and the Virgin Airlines pilot and crew for their public show of support.