“For the first time ever, Damascus is Damascuses (or at least, this is what turned out to be the case). And this depends on who tells.
You have to watch this disgusting video. This man’s only crime is that he appeared on Dunya TV (a regime TV). He was asked for his sect, and he said Sunni: and then he was tormented for being Sunni and appearing on Dunya TV and for mocking `Ar`ur speeches. At the end, the “revolutionary” of the Free Syrian Army announces that a punishment will be exacted on this person for his crimes. I have two points: 1) shame on Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International for their cowardice and lack of professionalism. They more than ever that they are mere tools of US foreign policy and of the agendas of their funders; 2) I miss the Sufis, liberals, and leftists who are running the Syrian revolution as we read only months ago.
“… Unidentified fighters have shot down an Iraqi army helicopter in clashes that have killed at least 19 people including 12 policemen, a regional official has said.The fighting around the town of Hadid on Thursday follows a warning last weekend from al-Qaeda’s leader in Iraq to push back into areas the group was driven out of by the US military after sectarian fighting peaked in 2007.
Diyala provincial spokesman Salih Ebressim Khalil said fighters opened fire on the helicopter, killing one soldier, wounding another and forcing the aircraft to make an emergency landing. The rest of the crew was unharmed….
In a statement posted online last Saturday, local al-Qaeda leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi announced a new campaign dubbed “Breaking the Walls”.
He said it sought to undermine the nation’s weakened Shia-led government by realigning with Sunni tribes, and returning to areas it was driven from before the American military withdrew from Iraq last December.
Al-Qaeda in Iraq is regarded by Iraqi officials as significantly weaker than at the peak of its strength in 2006 and 2007, but it is still capable of spectacular mass-casualty attacks across the country.…”
|Nasser, Naguib and Salah Salem|
Anwar Sadat went to the movies, not knowing that his co-conspirators had moved up the schedule, and almost missed the revolution. But once he caught up, as the senior Signals Corps officer among the plotters, he read communique number one:
To the People of Egypt:
Egypt has passed through a critical period in her recent history characterized by bribery, mischief, and the absence of governmental stability. All of these were factors that had a large influence on the army. Those who accepted bribes and were thus influenced caused our defeat in the Palestine War. As for the period following the war, the mischief-making elements have been assisting one another, and traitors have been commanding the army. They appointed a commander who is either ignorant or corrupt. Egypt has reached the point, therefore, of having no army to defend it. Accordingly, we have undertaken to clean ourselves up and have appointed to command us men from within the army whom we trust in their ability, their character, and their patriotism. It is certain that all Egypt will meet this news with enthusiasm and will welcome it.
For 59 years, anyone speaking of “the Egyptian Revolution” meant the coup of July 23, 1952. It was the thawra, though there were always a few who said that it was merely a coup (inqilab). If the events of January 25-February 11, 2011 had not occurred, today’s 60th anniversary of 1952 would no doubt be a huge celebration. But another, more popular revolution has occurred. (Whether it has been reversed or cancelled out by SCAF and the Muslim Brotherhood is, of course, a subject for debate.)
This is the fourth July 23 since I started this blog and the second since the fall of Husni Mubarak, but because it is the 60th anniversary it has itself become something of a political football.
This year, the Ahmad Maher Faction of the 6 April Youth Movement (whatever you think of the current bunch of revolutionaries, though know how to name their factions like real revolutionaries) has called on Egyptians to boycott celebrating July 23. This has already provoked counterstrikes from supporters of the 1952 revolution: SCAF on its Facebook page called such comments “delusional,” defended the military’s role in 1952 and today, and and “asserted the 1952 revolution wasn’t only for Egypt but for the whole African, Arab and Asian world.” Meanwhile, a group of “Nasserists” in Qena governorate also defended 1952 and “asserted that military rule didn’t begin with Gamal Abdel Nasser but had always been a feature of Egyptian political life since the time of Ramses II.”
Ramses II? But then, remember: the two pillars of Pharaoh’s power were his Army and the high priesthood. Is that so different from SCAF and the Muslim Brotherhood? Well, yes, probably.
But no one can argue that the 1952 revolution has had a major impact across the Arab world, though that was not evident immediately. When the Free Officers first took over they forced the King to abdicate but didn’t even proclaim a republic until the following year, so that infant King Ahmad Fuad II, though in exile with his father, was nominally reigning through a regency council. The coup was not the first military coup in the modern Arab world (Bakr Sidqi in Iraq and Husni Zaim in Syria had gotten there previously), and at first it named a civilian Prime Minister. It as later, after Nasser supplanted Naguib and began social and economic reforms and nationalizations, that it began to look a bit more like a revolution. Nasser had enormous flaws, but no other Arab leader has enjoyed the prestige he did across the rest of the Arab world. We’ve talked a lot about Nasser and Naguib in this blog, and I refer you to the archives rather than repeat myself.
For two generations July 23 has been Egypt’s national day.Already January 25 is a contender for the title. Like so much else in this turbulent era, it will take some time for this generation of revolutionaries (Islamist as well as secular) to come to terms with that earlier “revolution” six decades ago today.
Two videos (both in Arabic), one with clips of the first revolutionary era, and the second Muhammad Naguib’s own initial broadcast:
On Saturday and Sunday, the Free Syrian Army launched attacks on government facilities and personnel in Aleppo, with fighting raging in several districts of the country’s largest city. Fighting raged near a large government intelligence facility. If the rebels can take Aleppo, they would benefit from Turkish aid and trade, and could hope to build it up into a stronghold. They also have asserted control over two checkpoints on the border with Iraq that could help them supply the north. They have several checkpoints with Turkey, as well.
In a further sign of military demoralization, Three more brigadier generals (a lower rank of general in Syria) defected to Turkey this weekend, joining two dozen others who had left before.
Agence France Presse reports that the Free Syrian Army has taken the second of three major border crossings from Iraq to Syria, at al-Ya`ribiya/ Qa’im. The Iraqi authorities in Ninevah Province promptly closed the crossing from their side except for Iraqi refugees who want to return home from Syria. (Several hundred thousand Iraqi refugees had been in Syria, fleeing sectarian and political violence at home).
Thousands of Iraqis are now fleeing Syria. I’ve seen it alleged on twitter that Iraqi Shiites in the Sitt Zainab district of Damascus have been threatened by Sunni rebels. Sunni clerics and activists have for some years complained of missionary work by Iraqi Shiite refugees in Syria, aimed at converting local populations to orthodox Twelver Shiism from Sunnism or the Alawite folk religion. I don’t know whether the allegation has any truth to it, but it is widely believed by Sunnis and may be one reason the more hard line Sunni rebels are eager to see the Iraqi Shiites leave. The rebels may also suspect the Iraqi Shiites of favoring the Alawite Shiite elite in the Baath Party, though I think any such fear must be overblown.
If the FSA can take the third crossing from Iraq, at Walid, they can control truck traffic into Syria from Iraq, starving the regime. The border is long and porous, but big trucks need metalled roads, which are few and go through the checkpoints. Some 70% of goods coming into Syria were coming from Iraq, because Europe cut off trade with the Baath regime of Bashar al-Assad. The rebels are increasingly in a position to block that trade or direct it to their strongholds.
“…In an apparent swipe at the Brotherhood during a visit to Egypt by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Egypt’s top general, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, said the army would not allow a “specific group” to dominate Egypt…..
For now, Mursi may still be too weak, and the Brotherhood too untested, for Washington to bring decisive pressure to bear on the generals on his behalf.
“Mursi is trying to use foreign support, to the extent it is available, for a transition to a more democratic polity to enhance his powers and those of the Brotherhood,” said Kamran Bokhari, vice-president for the Middle East and South Asia at Stratfor.
But he said the military leadership remained a partner of choice for the outside world, “partly because of longstanding relations and partly because of U.S. uncertainty over the Brotherhood coming to power.”
Mursi seemed to be doing his best to have it otherwise on a visit last week to U.S. ally and regional power Saudi Arabia, whose monarchy looked on with unease last year as popular uprisings spread through the region.
While sharing similar ideology to the conservative Saudi monarchy, the Brotherhood has a popular appeal that some perceive as a threat to the authority of the Saudi government.
Mursi, surely anxious to keep vital Saudi financial aid flowing into Egypt’s depleted state coffers after he took office, did his best to mend the Brotherhood’s strained ties with the oil-rich kingdom. …”
Syria’s security chief dies from injuries he received in Wednesday’s attack, as the army ousts rebels from a Damascus neighbourhood.
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Syrian rebels capture a number of positions on the country’s borders with Turkey and Iraq as the army concentrates on the battle for Damascus.
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