New Age Islam Edit Bureau
3 October 2015
Abdel Nasser and I
NATO, the US and a Marxist ally
Russia may be salvaging the ‘Axis of Resistance’
By Manuel Almeida
Signs of further cooperation between the U.S. and Iran
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh
Obama and Sisi: Whose cold shoulder?
Abdel Nasser and I
3 October 2020
Forty-five years ago Gamal Abdel Nasser died at the early age of 52. It is not an event of the past. It continues to have a huge influence on the present, and probably will on the future.
My meetings with him go back to 1948. I used to joke that “we were very close to each other, but we were never properly introduced!”
It happened like this: In July we were desperately trying to stop the advance of the Egyptian Army toward Tel Aviv. The cornerstone of our front was a village called Negba. One evening we were told that an Egyptian unit had cut the only road to this kibbutz and dug in across it.
The company to which I belonged was a mobile commando unit riding on jeeps, each with two machine guns. We were ordered to storm the position and retake it at any costs. It was a crazy idea — you don’t use jeeps to attack dug-in soldiers. But the commanders were desperate, too.
So we advanced in the darkness along the narrow road until we reached the Egyptian position and were met with murderous fire. We retreated, but then the battalion commander joined us and led another attack. This time we literally overran the Egyptians, feeling human bodies under our wheels. The Egyptians fled. Their commander was wounded. As I later found out, he was a major named Gamal Abdel Nasser. After that, the fortunes of war turned. We got the upper hand and surrounded an entire Egyptian brigade. I was a part of the besieging force when I was severely wounded. On the opposite side was Maj. Abdel Nasser. Four years later, Gingi called me in great excitement. “I must meet you immediately,” he told me.
Gingi is the Hebrew slang version of ginger, as the British call a red-haired person. This particular gingi was a small, very dark Yemenite. He was nicknamed Gingi because he had very black hair; that was our kind of humor then.
Gingi (actual name Yerucham Cohen) had served during the war as the adjutant of the Southern front commander, Yigal Alon. During the fighting, a short cease-fire had been arranged to allow both sides to retrieve the dead and wounded left lying between the lines. Gingi, who spoke excellent Arabic, was sent to negotiate with the emissary of the encircled force, Maj. Abdel Nasser.
As so happens, during their several meetings, a friendship sprang up between the two men. Once, when the Egyptian was very depressed, Gingi tried to comfort him and said: “Cheer up, ya Gamal, you will get out of here alive and have children!”
The prophecy was fulfilled. The war ended, the encircled brigade returned to a hero’s welcome in Cairo. Yerucham was appointed to the Israeli-Egyptian armistice commission. One day his Egyptian counterpart told him: “I was asked by Lt. Col. Abdel Nasser to tell you that a son has been born to him.”
Yerucham bought a baby suit and gave it to his counterpart. Nasser sent back his thanks and an assortment of cakes from the famous Groppi Café in Cairo. In the summer of 1952, the Egyptian Army rebelled and, in a bloodless coup, sent the playboy King Farouk packing. The coup was led by a group of “Free Officers,” headed by a 51-year old general, Muhammad Naguib. I published in my magazine a message of congratulation to the officers.
Gingi once told me: “Forget about Naguib. He is just a figurehead. The real leader is a fellow called Nasser!” So my magazine had a world scoop, we disclosed that the real leader was an officer called Abdel Nasser. (Gamal in Arabic means camel, a symbol of beauty for Arabs) When Nasser officially became the leader, Yerucham told me in deepest secrecy that he had just received an astounding invitation: Nasser had invited him to come, privately, to see him in Cairo.
“Go!” I implored him. “This may be a historic opening!” But Yerucham was an obedient citizen. He asked the Foreign Office for permission. The minister, Moshe Sharett, forbade him to accept the invitation. “If Nasser wants to talk with Israel, he must apply to the Foreign Office,” Yerucham was told. That was, of course, the end of the matter. Nasser was an Arab of a new type: Tall, handsome, charismatic, a spellbinding orator. David Ben-Gurion, who was already getting old, was afraid of him, and perhaps envied him. So he plotted with the French to overthrow him.
After a short voluntary exile in a Kibbutz, Ben-Gurion returned in 1955 to his post as minister of defense. The first thing he did was to attack the Egyptian army in Gaza. By design or mistake, many Egyptian soldiers were killed. Nasser, angry and humiliated, turned to the Soviets and received large shipments of arms.
Since 1954, France was facing a war of liberation in Algeria. Since they could not imagine that the Algerians would rise up against France of their own free will, they accused Nasser of inciting them. The British joined the club because Nasser had just nationalized the British-French company that ran the Suez Canal.
The result was the 1956 Suez adventure: Israel attacked the Egyptian army in the Sinai desert, while the French and the British landed in their rear. The Egyptian army, practically surrounded, was ordered to return home as hastily as possible. Some soldiers left their boots behind. Israel was intoxicated by this resounding victory.
But the Americans were angry, and so were the Soviets. US President Dwight Eisenhower and the Soviet Prime Minister Nikolai Bulganin issued ultimatums, and the three colluding powers had to withdraw completely. “Ike” was the last American president who dared to face down Israel and the US Jews.
Overnight, Nasser became the hero of the entire Arab world. His vision of a pan-Arab nation moved into the realm of possibility. The Palestinians, deprived of their own homeland which was divided between Israel, Jordan and Egypt, saw their future in such a broad nation and admired Nasser.
In Israel, Nasser became the ultimate enemy, the devil incarnate. He was referred to officially and in all the media as “the Egyptian tyrant,” and frequently “the Second Hitler.” When I proposed making peace with him, people considered me insane.
Carried away by his immense popularity throughout the Arab world and beyond, Nasser did a foolish thing. When Israeli Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin threatened the Syrians with invasion, Nasser saw an easy way to demonstrate his leadership. He warned Israel and sent his army into the demilitarized Sinai desert.
Everybody in Israel was frightened. Everybody except I (and the army). A few months before, I was informed in secret that a leading Israeli general had confided to friends: “I pray every night that Nasser will send his army into Sinai. There we will destroy it!”
And so it happened. Too late Nasser realized that he had walked into a trap (as my magazine announced in its headline.) To stave off disaster, he issued blood-curdling threats “to throw Israel into the sea” and sent a high-ranking emissary to Washington to plead for pressure to stop Israel. Too late. After a lot of hesitation, and after getting explicit permission from President Lyndon Johnson, the Israeli army attacked and smashed the Egyptian, the Jordanian and the Syrian forces within six days.
There were two historic results: (a) Israel became a colonial power; and (b) the backbone of pan-Arab nationalism was broken. Nasser remained in power for another three years, a shadow of his former self. One day my French friend, the renowned journalist Eric Rouleau, asked me to come urgently to Paris. Rouleau, an Egyptian-born Jew working for the prestigious French newspaper Le Monde, was at home with the Egyptian elite. He told me that Nasser had just given him a long interview. As agreed, he submitted the text to Nasser for confirmation prior to publication. After some consideration, Nasser struck out a crucial section: An offer to Israel to make peace. It was essentially the offer that formed the basis for the Sadat-Begin peace agreement nine years later. But Rouleau had the full interview on tape. He offered to give me the text, so that I could transmit it to the Israeli government on condition of total secrecy.
I rushed home and called a leading member of the Israeli government, Finance Minister Pinchas Sapir, who was considered the most dovish member of the Cabinet. He received me at once, listened to what I had to say and showed no interest at all. A few days later, during the Black September crisis in Jordan, Nasser suddenly died.
With him died the vision of pan-Arab nationalism, the rebirth of the Arab nation under the flag of a European idea based on rational, secular thought. A spiritual and political vacuum was created in the Arab world. But nature, as we all know, does not tolerate empty spaces. With Nasser dead, and after the violent end of his successors and imitators, Sadat, Mubarak, Qaddafi and Saddam, the vacuum invited a new force: Radical militancy. I have warned many times in the past that if we destroy Nasser and Arab nationalism, religious forces would come to the fore. Instead of a fight between rational enemies which can end in a rational peace, it will be the beginning of a religious war, which will by definition be irrational and allow for no compromise.
That’s where we are now. Instead of Nasser, we have Daesh. Instead of the Arab world led by a charismatic leader, who gave the Arab masses everywhere a sense of dignity and renewal, we are now facing an enemy which glorifies public beheading.
NATO, the US and a Marxist ally
3 October 2020
The equilibrium between US and USSR was compromised after the WW-II; the manufacture by the USSR of its own atom bomb being the final straw for the US.
The US had perhaps for the first time grasped the scale of the Communist threat and that a threat it had failed to see while fighting against fascist Germany was now aimed at it. NATO, was established in the face of that threat. Turkey was now important for both blocs; the USSR wanted to establish as base on the straits, while the US wanted to have bases on Turkish territory against that giant Communist threat.
Turkish membership of NATO meant that this threat was neutralized for the US and Britain. Turkey’s presence in NATO during the Cold War was of great importance to the member nations and protected the world against a potential WW-3. In brief, NATO was basically founded to fight communism, and Turkey was the key stone in that fight at the time.
NATO is founded on the idea of ‘all for one.’ Under Article 5 of the Treaty, when the territorial integrity of any member is threatened, all members have a duty to regard that as an attack on themselves. The 21st century has broadened NATO’s responsibilities. The concept of war between nations has been expanded, and the threat of terror is now regarded as a pretext for such intervention. The September 11 attacks are the only instance in which Article 5 has been invoked.
With the invocation of Article 5 after a terror attack, NATO officially recognized terror as one of the threats to member countries and the world as a whole. Last July Turkey called for an extraordinary meeting under Article 4, which is the second important article of the Treaty, on the grounds. The NATO Council stated that Turkey was not alone in its fight against terror and that it supported its operations.
Two important points here. First, although various terror organizations are active on various fronts in Turley’s southern border, the only terror grouping that is currently actively attacking it is the PKK. Second, NATO was founded to combat communism. Turkey is currently under threat from a communist-anarchist terror organization.
Numerous districts in various Turkish provinces are currently under assault by that terror organization. Turkish troops and police are attacked and martyred on a daily basis. PKK leaders launch threats at Turkey from Mount Qandil as if they faced no opposition and announce that they will soon be launching suicide attacks in the big cities. The territorial integrity of Turkey, a NATO country, is therefore under active and serious threat.
The following point must also not be misunderstood; Turkey has the second largest army in NATO. It is quite capable of fighting and deterring the essentially cowardly PKK. Turkey needs to take emergency measures for those means to be effectively employed, and these must not be delayed. Of course we do not desire bloodshed, but deterrents must be employed in the face of evil threats such as terrorism.
Turkey therefore has no need of assistance or military support from NATO to see off the terror that is blighting it. The Turkish Army and the Turkish nation have the will and determination to defend the country’s territorial integrity.
If an organization that has violated the territorial integrity of one NATO country is not regarded as a threat by the other members, then something is very wrong. If Turkey describes the PKK, a threat on its own borders, and its direct extension the YPG as a terrorist organization and a threat to itself, then for the US, another member of NATO, to say, ‘We do not regard the YPG as a terror organization or a threat’ is in defiance of the responsibility imposed on it under the pact.
President Erdogan’s response to the statements emanating from the USA is significant – ‘The US is not paying the price in this matter today. It is we who pay the bill and who know what the PYD and YPG are doing.’
It is Turkey that will pay the price for a Marxist terror organization on our border thanks to the US bombing. PKK militants have for years been crossing into Turkey through that border and shooting at our troops. It is not the US or NATO’s other members that will have paid the price, but Turkey alone.
The question that needs to be asked in order to better understand the position is this; if a Marxist terror organization were located on the US border and setting up its own state, and if it were sending its militants over the border and attacking the US what would the latter think about that? It would in all likelihood involve Article 5 of the NATO Treaty and take prompt military measures. When it comes to Turkey, however, the US administration see nothing wrong say that the YPG is not a terror organization and has no qualms about entering into a military alliance with it. That is compatible with neither the spirit of NATO nor the US-Turkey alliance.
The spirit of NATO is a one of unity in order to protect members against attack, and it involves solidarity. That solidarity still exists against communist organizations that threaten the world. That fine solidarity spirit must not be forgotten, and we need to remember that it was the main impulse behind NATO. Otherwise, all support given to terrorists will lead to ever greater scourges, ones that will blight the entire world.
Russia may be salvaging the ‘Axis of Resistance’
By Manuel Almeida
Friday, 2 October 2015
Defined by its anti-Western and anti-Israeli stance, the so-called “Axis of Resistance” has over the last decade gone through an up-and-down trajectory. The U.S.-led invasion of Iraq provided a boost to the Iranian-led block, with the rise to power in Iraq of pro-Iranian Shiite politicians such as Nouri al-Maliki and the gradual growth of various Shiite militias in Iraq.
After Hezbollah’s display of resilience in the war against Israel in the summer of 2006, the leader of the Iranian-sponsored militia, Hassan Nasrallah, was hailed as a hero by many in the Muslim world, despite the loss of hundreds of experienced fighters and the conflict’s devastating consequences for Lebanon.
However, the eruption of the Syrian conflict and the prospect of seeing President Bashar al-Assad fall represented a life-threatening development for the axis. Thus, Iran and Hezbollah intervened to protect a leader slaughtering his own population and willing to burn Syria to the ground.
This intervention shattered the image the Iranian regime had been seeking for itself as protector of Muslims in distress. Palestine’s Hamas, the only Sunni member of the axis, closed its main office in Damascus and broke away in 2012.
Beyond Hezbollah’s need to preserve key supply routes and strategic lines, in the eyes of many in the region it also revealed the militia’s darkest side and its loyalty to Iran’s supreme leader above all else, while neglecting its obligation to shield Lebanon from the mess next door.
It would be both a strategic straightjacket and a display of insecurity from President Vladimir Putin to tie Russia so closely to the Iranian-led axis.
Former Hezbollah Secretary-General Subhi al-Tufayli, who had split from the movement after criticizing it as “too moderate,” accused it of no longer being the party that defends the Umma (Islamic Nation). “Instead it plagues the Umma,” he said in an interview.
Despite the Iranian-led efforts to prop up Assad, government forces lost control of much of the territory, and the Sunni opposition grew increasingly radicalized. The various opposition groups, including the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), have built up the pressure on the regime, to the point that Assad himself recognized bluntly this summer that his army was severely struggling.
The current Russian military build-up in Syria is inescapably linked to that recognition, although Russian intentions are complex. With Assad, Iran and Hezbollah under pressure, is the ongoing Russian intervention just what the axis needs to eventually regain the upper hand in Syria?
With Moscow already conducting aerial strikes in Syria following approval from Russia’s parliament, according to Iraqi military officials there is an effort under way to intensify intelligence and security cooperation between Russia, Iran, Iraq and Syria to confront ISIS.
Going far beyond intelligence and security cooperation, the editor-in-chief of the pro-Hezbollah daily newspaper Al-Akbhar recently claimed that secret talks between the four countries have given birth to a new alliance, “the most important in the region and the world for many years.” Wishful thinking?
Yes, says the president of Iran. Just a few days ago in New York, Hassan Rouhani dismissed the claims about an Iranian-Russian coalition. All there is between Iran and Russia, he claimed, is intelligence-sharing. Yet Rouhani still recognized that the Iranian and Russian views of the Syrian crisis are like “a mirror” of one another.
It would be both a strategic straightjacket and a display of insecurity from President Vladimir Putin, who aspires to beef up his country’s global and Middle Eastern roles, to tie Russia so closely to the Iranian-led axis.
The debate about Russia’s intentions will go on, but at least a few aspects of its Syria strategy seem relatively consensual among pundits: protect and strengthen the Syrian regime, degrade ISIS, and ensure a key role for Russia in any future political settlement.
The axis has cornered millions of Syrians between Assad’s forces, Shiite militias and ISIS. Russia may be on the way to giving it a major hand.
Moreover, it is possible Moscow will eventually realize that Iran’s cynical position on Syria - serious negotiations on a political settlement and regime reform only when and if ISIS is defeated - is a disaster for Syria and the region, and thus contrary to Russian interests.
The main doubt until the airstrikes began was whether or not Moscow was being honest about the only military target being ISIS, and not every opposition group threatening Assad’s regime.
Soon after the first sorties by Russian airplanes, the opposition Free Syrian Army (FSA) claimed the strikes did not hit ISIS but other opposition groups as well as civilians. On Thursday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov admitted that “the aim is really to help the armed forces of Syria in their weak spots.”
Even if Russian airstrikes target mainly ISIS - something quite complicated to achieve - then the big problem with Russia’s new assertiveness on Syria lies with the unintended consequences. Without a push for a political settlement, the effort to beef up the Syrian regime’s military strength and protect it from the most radical groups can have an impact on the conflict beyond the fight against ISIS. If that happens, Russia, a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, will be contributing to the further weakening of the moderate opposition groups and the irreversible fragmentation of Syria.
In 2012, Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior advisor to Iran’s supreme leader and former foreign minister, described the importance of Syria to the axis: “The chain of resistance against Israel by Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, the new Iraqi government and Hamas passes through the Syrian highway… Syria is the golden ring of the chain of resistance against Israel.”
Today, the axis has cornered millions of Syrians between Assad’s forces, Shiite militias and ISIS. Russia may be on the way to giving it a major hand.
Manuel Almeida is a writer, researcher and consultant on the Middle East. He holds a PhD in International Relations from the London of Economics and Political Science and was an editor at Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper. He can be reached on @_ManuelAlmeida on Twitter.
Signs of further cooperation between the U.S. and Iran
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh
2 October 2015
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani contradicted Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s remarks about their country’s potential rapprochement with the United States. Although Khamenei continues to reject any additional detente, Iran’s latest tactical shift in its foreign policies and priorities, as well as Rouhani’s message at the U.N. General Assembly, suggest a different landscape.
Although Iranian leaders’ speeches are just a collection of words rather than actions, if we analyze Rouhani’s speech meticulously, the broader tone of his remarks suggest two major and intriguing issues. Firstly, the general tone was of Tehran’s willingness to further engage with the West and the United States.
The engagement appears to be on two levels: economic and geopolitical. Rouhani said Iran is prepared to be a regional business hub by increasing economic deals with the West and other nations. This shows that Rouhani, under Khamenei’s supervision, is putting economic and national interests ahead of ideological interests.
Washington will continue to indirectly ratchet up Iran’s global legitimacy and projection of power due to U.S. unwillingness to act decisively.
Secondly, Rouhani depicted Iran as a country fighting terrorism and willing to cooperate with the international community to resolve conflicts in the region. In other words, he is attempting to ratchet up Iran’s global and regional legitimacy without mentioning its role in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen, and without attracting attention to the role of Al-Quds force - a branch of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) that operates in foreign countries - in fueling conflicts in the region.
Economy and ideology
Tehran’s increased geopolitical legitimacy on the global stage - which is orchestrated by Iranian leaders and indirectly facilitated by U.S. foreign policy toward Tehran - can have significant impacts on Iran’s embattled economy, causing it to revive more quickly.
Western countries are more willing to do business with Iran when its legitimacy is viewed as being restored. This legitimacy is validated by Washington’s view of Iran as a significant player with a constructive role in resolving conflicts and fighting terrorism.
However, since Washington does not have clear and detailed policies toward Middle East conflicts, it is more willing to delegate the task of fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and resolving the crises in Syria and Yemen, to Tehran and Moscow or other nations. This suggests that Washington will continue to indirectly ratchet up Iran’s global legitimacy and projection of power due to U.S. unwillingness to act decisively.
Some might argue that Rouhani is not sending signals of further bilateral cooperation, since he slammed Washington over the conflicts in the region. The argument goes that the supreme leader made clear that there would be no further rapprochement. However, Khamenei previously drew several red lines regarding the nuclear deal, only for most of them to be crossed.
Khamenei’s public statements do not genuinely reflect the way he instructs his president and senior cadre of the IRGC in private. In public, he has to reiterate Iran’s anti-American policies due to his need to satisfy his social base’s revolutionary principles. In addition, Rouhani needs to satisfy his critics at home by criticizing the United States and certain countries in the region.
Tactical cooperation between Tehran and Washington, and between Tehran and the West, is likely to increase. However, this will not resolve regional crises because Tehran will not alter its foreign policy fundamentally.
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh
Khamenei is instructing the president’s team to prioritize national and economic interests over revolutionary ones. This is due to the fact that the nuclear deal and Iran’s change of tone on the global stage would not have been possible without a green light from the supreme leader. Every crucial foreign policy issue enacted by the president has to be approved by the supreme leader.
Although Iran is prioritizing its economic and national interests, this does not necessarily mean that Tehran is abandoning its revolutionary norms. It cannot afford to do so because they are the deep-rooted character of the government and how it gains its legitimacy. This revolutionary establishment is even out of Khamenei’s control. Prioritizing economic and national interests is a short-term tactical shift.
Such prioritization, the indirect American facilitation of Iran’s global legitimacy, and the U.S. wait-and-see foreign policy in the Middle East, suggest that tactical cooperation between Tehran and Washington, and between Tehran and the West, is likely to increase. However, this will not resolve regional crises because Tehran will not alter its foreign policy or revolutionary norms fundamentally.
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is an Iranian-American scholar, author and U.S. foreign policy specialist. Rafizadeh is the president of the International American Council. He serves on the board of Harvard International Review at Harvard University and Harvard International Relations Council. He is a member of the Gulf 2000 Project at Columbia University, School of International and Public Affairs. Previously he served as ambassador to the National Iranian-American Council based in Washington DC. He can be contacted at: Dr.Rafizadeh@post.harvard.edu, or on Twitter: @MajidRafizadeh
Obama and Sisi: Whose cold shoulder?
2 October 2015
As significant as everything Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said when he addressed the U.N. General Assembly this week is what he did not do. That was to travel to Washington to meet with U.S. President Barack Obama, who could alternatively have found time, as he did last year, for a private meeting with Sisi in New York.
Obama did find time to meet privately with Russian President Vladimir Putin and talk about Sisi, because when that meeting was over it was announced that Egypt should participate in the international contact group on Syria, which meets later this month.
Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry would not agree with me. According to him, a trip to Washington was scheduled, but had to be called off because Sisi had to return to Egypt given the recent cabinet reshuffle. However, both Sisi and Obama were in New York, and both found time to meet with other heads of state.
For all America’s continuous harping on about Egypt’s human rights abuses, Sisi’s importance and accomplishments have been honored by the rest of the world.
Sisi was particularly active. He met with French President Francois Hollande, and thanked him for facilitating Egypt’s purchase of two aircraft carriers for helicopters. Sisi also met with Jordan’s King Abdullah, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abaidi, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, Senegalese President Macky Sall, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, and Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.
Libya was reportedly the main topic of the meeting with Renzi, who was asked to support lifting the arms embargo against the Libyan army, which is fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
So Shoukry’s denial that there was anything significant about Obama and Sisi not meeting does not really hold up. How could a cabinet reshuffle take precedence over a meeting with the U.S. president? Who decided not to meet?
In his interviews, Sisi went out of his way not to be openly critical of U.S. policy toward Egypt, as he has been previously. Not only did he declare that relations with the United States were “strategic and stable,” but said Washington had never let Egypt down. Sisi sounded almost wistful or melancholic rather than upset when he told CNN: “The last two years were a real test of endurance and strength of the U.S.-Egyptian strategic relationship.”
In his U.N. General Assembly speech, Sisi talked about the problem of Palestine. He said the creation of a Palestinian state would eliminate one of the most dangerous pretexts for extremism and terrorism. “The recent events at Al-Aqsa [mosque] emphasize the need for a comprehensive solution,” he added. In an implicit reference to the peace plan endorsed by the Arab League, Sisi said he hoped other Arab states would be able to follow Egypt in making peace with Israel.
The most controversial part of Sisi’s speech dealt with Syria. He warned that the civil war must not end with the collapse of the Syrian army and state, as this would lead to the regime’s weapons falling into the hands of terrorists.
Both Obama and Sisi are opposed to ISIS, and both believe in a political solution in which President Bashar al-Assad could initially play a role in a transitional government. However, Sisi does not denounce Assad, while Obama stresses the Syrian president’s culpability.
If Washington has restored all its commitments to supply Egypt’s armed forces, and if Obama’s secretary of state was in Cairo to revive strategic talks, why would Obama not find time for Sisi? It is possible that Obama cannot get over the fact that, for all America’s continuous harping on about Egypt’s human rights abuses, Sisi’s importance and accomplishments have been honored by the rest of the world, except for Turkey and to a lesser degree Qatar.
Sisi threw into disarray Obama’s strategic plan, dating back to 2009, to cultivate the Muslim Brotherhood because it allegedly would play a vital and effective role against Al-Qaeda once in power. Although it violates foreign policy realism, heads of state can hold grudges.
Abdallah Schleifer is a veteran American journalist covering the Middle East and professor emeritus at the American University in Cairo where he founded and served as first director of the Kamal Adham Center for TV and Digital Journalism. He is chief editor of the annual publication The Muslim 500; a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute (USA) and at the Royal Aal al Bayt Academy for Islamic Thought (Jordan.) Schleifer has served as Al Arabiya Washington D.C. bureau chief; NBC News Cairo bureau chief; Middle East correspondent for Jeune Afrique; as special correspondent (stringer) , New York Times and managing editor of the Jerusalem Star/Palestine News in then Jordanian Arab Jerusalem.