Sunday, August 18, 2013

A few thoughts and speculations about the events in Egypt and Syria

Even though I have been closely following the events in Egypt I did not write anything about them for a while already.  Frankly, I felt too horrified, too appalled and to disgusted to write.  Besides, I am hardly an expert in Egypt and others have already said it all, and much better than I ever could (see, for example, here and here).  As for me, I just continued to follow the events, in silent shock and horror at what was taking place.

Still, just by watching different times of reports, I began noticing a few possibly interesting features which did not seem to catch much attention.

First this: most reports speak of the regime vs the pro-Morsi demonstrators.  And yet, especially when parsing Russian reports, I get the feeling that the reality on the ground is much more complex.  For one thing, I get the feeling that there is a substantial part of the demonstrators who are not at all associated with the Muslim Brotherhood (MB).  From their looks and interviews, they appear to be non-MB protesters who oppose the crushing of democracy and the bloodbath taking place.  Some of them even said that they had no association with the MB.

Then, I also have the feeling that there are quite a few gangs of common thugs who are happy to use the opportunity to attack people at gunpoint and steal all their belonging.  I have no way of ascertaining the magnitude of this phenomenon, but it does appear to be non-trivial.

Then, there is the business of the burned Christian churches.  I hear different figures, ranging from 7 to 50 to many more.  Each time I hear these reports I feel uncomfortable, and I wonder if I am the only one.  Here is why:

I would most definitely not put is past any Sunni extremist to burn down a church, God knows they have done some elsewhere (Chechnia, Bosnia, Kosovo).  But one still has to ask the question - cui bono - who benefits from that?

The MB official line is that they are defending democracy and human rights.  Is that really compatible with the torching of Christian churches?  Are the MB really so dumb as to not realize how bad this makes them look in the international media?  Also, considering that the Morsi supporters are busy fighting a far better trained and better armed enemy (cops, military, internal security), would attacking Christian churches really be a top priority for them?

Now look at the same question from the point of view of the military junta.  Does not every burning Christian church not vindicate them and their claim that they are saving Egypt from terrorists and extremists?

And what does the past teach us?  The Empire has used flase flags not only in Bosnia (Markale market) and Kosovo (Racak), but also in Algeria where a huge number of atrocities attributed to the Groupe Islamiste Arme (GIA) were, in fact, conducted by the Algerian military special forces.  So far all of these false flag operations have been a resounding success for the Empire which has never had to admit to them even though in each case the evidence was there, but restricted to only a few people who really cared to investigate them.  But as far as the mainstream media is concerned, this never happened.

Please - before accusing me of pro-Muslim bias - I ask that these issues be at least explored.  I appeal in particular to the non-Muslims reading this to whom I submit the following: does it make sense to denounce the false flag operations committed by the Empire in putative support of Muslim groups only to then reject the possibility that exactly the same trick could be used against Muslims elsewhere?

I personally believe that the Empire makes no difference at all between Muslims and non-Muslims.  The Empire uses whatever group is available at any given moment in time and manipulates the desires and goals of this group for its own, Imperial, interests.  Right now, in Egypt, there can be little doubt on whose side the Empire stands nor can there be any doubt as to which sides benefits from the burning of these churches.

Finally, even if these churches were, in fact, torched by Morsi supporters of the MB - so what?  I remind you that Malcolm X was killed by members of the Nation of Islam - yet it is pretty darn clear who created the circumstances for that murder and who benefited from it.

So yes, I am deeply suspicious about the reports about all these burned churches.  Am I the only one?

One more thing: the really bad news out of Egypt is that all the uniformed folks seem to have no compunction or second thoughts about shooting their fellow Egyptians.  From all the reports the bloodbath has truly reached phenomenal proportions and the so-called "security forces" are even willing to storm mosques and use deadly force on anybody, including women, children and the elderly, found inside.  The sheer viciousness of the use of deadly firepower against clearly non-violent demonstrators is rather amazing.  By the way, I am not suggesting that all or even most of the demonstrations are non-violent, not at all.  Many, if not most, are indeed violent, and I have seen footage of "civilians" in these demonstrations which are armed with assault rifles.  The fact that these armed "civilians" are clearly willing to open fire while standing in the midst of civilians also tells me that there are some in the pro-Morsi side who clearly want as many civilians killed as possible.  And this all adds up for a very ugly mix:

If the "security" forces are willing to kill as many Egyptians as ordered, and if there are those inside the MB who feel that the more people die the better, then the bloodbath is certain to continue.

Eventually though, and unless some uniformed units change sides, the MB will have to be defeated.  So far, the junta has successfully cleared every single location in Egypt it wanted to clear - from Tahrir Square to the Ramses Square Mosque.  My guess that in Cairo at least the regime is firmly in power.  What is going on in the rest of the country is, however, anyone's guess.

Russian TV reports speak of 50'000-60'000 Russian tourists currently on holidays in various tourist locations, mostly on the Red Sea.  The Russian government has now banned the sale of holiday tickets to Egypt and has authorized the free repatriation of any Russian nationals from there.  The remarkable thing those is that the Russian tourists themselves seem to feel rather safe.  They are contacted by various Russian media outlets on a daily basis but all they report are either very minor incidents or cases of more or less enforced curfews.  Clearly, the violence has not yet spilled over into the main resorts of Egypt.  So we have a bloodbath in Cairo, relative calm in the tourist resorts and basically no information at all as to what is going on in the rest of this huge country, right?

Has anybody heard or seen any report about that is happening in the rest of Egypt?

Besides the greater Cairo metropolitan area (9+ million people, Alexandria (4 million) and Giza (3 million), there are another 16 cities in Egypt with a population in between 200'000 and 600'00 for a total population of about 6 million people.  Considering the distances involved and the fact that these cities are spread through the depth of the country, this shows that there is a real potential for local resistance to the rule of the central government.

Again - if any of you have any information about what is going on in the rest of the country I would be most grateful for it.

One more thing: the violence in Egypt seems to have temporarily eclisped the war against Syria and against Hezbollah which has now reached a new qualitative level with the car bomb attack on Hezbollah in Beirut.

In Syria, as far as I know, the government forces are still pressing their advantage even though they seem to be able to concentrate only at a few cities at a time.  As for the insurgents, there are making use of a simple and flexible tactic: every time the government forces are concentrating on location A, the insurgents attack in location B.  Considering their lack of capabilities and their operational situation this is a sound tactic, but hardly one which can turn the tide.

Another interesting development in Syria is the dramatic increase of al-Qaeda attacks against the Syrian Kurds.  My guess is that being pressed by government forces al-Qaeda is literally running out of space and that they naturally looked towards the Kurdish areas of Syria which happen to be located in a strategic corner of the country which excellent land communications potential.  Whatever may be the case, they are taking a huge risk here because of the Kurds can set aside their often confused political agendas and if they actually turn their rather formidable military capabilities against al-Qaeda then this might really end up being a "coup de grâce" for al--Qaeda in Syria.  Alas, I don't have the feeling that the Kurds are ready to accept the fact that their best chance for the future would be in a firm alliance with Syria and Iran.

That's about it.  Please consider all of the above as just the speculations of a rather ignorant person.  I offer them mainly in the hope of getting a good discussion going and, especially, with the hope that those of you who have some information about what is going on in Egypt and Syria might be willing to share it with the rest of us.  Or, you can follow my example, and engage in wild speculations without really knowing what you are talking about :-)

Let's not take ourselves too seriously and let's just enjoy sharing impressions and speculations.

Many thanks and kind regards,

The Saker