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Sunday, November 25, 2012
Excerpts: Brotherhood top leader blasts peace with Israel. US:regional conditions preclude nuclear conference. Morsi faces judicial revolt over decree. Rivals Qaqtar and Iran court Hamas. Egypts responsibility November 25, 2012

Excerpts: Brotherhood top leader blasts peace with Israel. US:regional
conditions preclude nuclear conference. 'Morsi faces judicial revolt over
decree'.Rivals Qaqtar and Iran court Hamas. Egypt's responsibility November
25, 2012

+++SOURCE: Egyptian Gazette 25 Nov.’12:”Egypt Brotherhood leader blasts
peace with Israel”,By: Hany Salahuldien
SUBJECT:Egypt Brotherhood top leader blasts peace with Israel
QUOTE:”Mohammed Badsdei: Jihad is obligatory for Muslims”

FULL TEXT:CAIRO - The top leader of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood denounced
peace efforts with Israel and urged holy war to liberate Palestinian
territories on Thursday[22 Nov] ," one day after the country's president,
who hails from the movement, mediated a cease-fire between Israelis and
Palestinians to end eight days of fierce fighting.

The enemy knows nothing but the language of force," said Mohammed Badei. "Be
aware of the game of grand deception with which they depict peace accords,"
he said in a statement carried on the group's website and emailed to
reporters.
His statement was a sharp deviation from the role played by President
Mohammed Morsi in the last week. Egypt's role in brokering the deal has been
hailed by U.S. officials.
The Brotherhood sometimes delivers conflicting messages, depending on its
audience. There are also ideological and generational divisions within the
movement, with older leaders like Badie often seen as more conservative.
The Muslim Brotherhood doesn't recognize Israel and " at least officially "
its members refuse to hold direct talks with Israeli officials. But Morsi
has said that he will abide by the terms of Egypt's 1979 treaty with Israel,
and many members say they are in little hurry to enter into armed conflict
with the Jewish state.
Badei declared that "jihad is obligatory" for Muslims. But he also said that
taking up arms would be the "last stage," only after Muslims achieved unity.
"The use of force and arms while the group is fragmented and disconnected,
unorganized, weak in conviction, with faint faith " this will be destined
for death."
In the meantime, he called on Muslims to "back your brothers in Palestine.
Supply them with what they need, seek victory for them in all international
arenas." Badei's title -- General Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood -- also
implies a leadership role in the Islamist group's sister movements across
the world.
Under the deal, Gaza's ruling Hamas is to stop rocket fire into Israel while
Israel is to cease attacks and allow the opening of the strip's
long-blockaded borders.
The Hamas-Israel fighting was the first major international test for Morsi,
who was caught between either supporting Hamas, one of the Egyptian
Brotherhood's sister movements, and Cairo's regional and international
commitments.

+++SOURCE: Saudi Gazette 25 Nov.’12:”US says no conference on nuke-free
Mideast for now”, Associated Press

SUBJECT: US: regional conditions preclude nuclear conference

QUOTE:”State Department’s spokeswoman Victoria Newland. . . cited political
turmoil in the region and Iran’s defiant stance on nonproliferation”

FULL TEXT:WASHINGTON – The US says a proposed conference on banning nuclear
weapons in the Middle East cannot be convened at this point because of
current conditions in the region.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a statement released
Friday[23 Nov.] that the US will continue to work to create conditions that
could result in a successful conference. But she cited political turmoil in
the region and Iran’s defiant stance on nonproliferation.

She says the US supports the goal of a Middle East free of weapons of mass
destruction. But she said such a conference should discuss a broad agenda of
regional security and have some sort of consensus among the nations in the
region on how to approach the conference.

The Associated Press reported earlier this month that the meeting, planned
for Helsinki, Finland, before the end of the year had been called off. A
diplomat, who demanded anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss
the matter ahead of a public announcement of the cancellation, said Israel
had decided not to attend. Key sponsors had said that the meeting was
possible only if all countries, especially Israel, would participate. Israel
declined to participate because of positions taken by Arab countries, the
diplomat said. – AP

+++SOURCE: Jordan Times 25 Nov,’12:”Egypt’s Morsi faces judicial revolt over
decree”Reuters
SUBJECT: ‘Morsi faces judicial revolt over decree’
QUOTE:”Egypt’s judges called on Saturday [24 Nov] for an immediate strike in
all courts and prosecutors offices in protest against Morsi’s decree”
FULL TEXT:CAIRO — Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi faces a rebellion from
judges who accused him on Saturday]24 Nov.] of expanding his powers at their
expense, deepening a crisis that has triggered calls for more protests
following a day of violence across Egypt.

The body representing Egypt’s judges called on Saturday[w4 Nov.] for an
immediate strike in all courts and prosecutors offices in protest against
Morsi’s decree.

At a meeting in Cairo, the Judges Club called on Morsi to retract the decree
and to reinstate Abdel Maguid Mahmoud, the Hosni Mubarak-era prosecutor
general who was sacked as part of the decision unveiled on Thursday[22
Nov.].

Judges in Alexandria, Egypt’s second city, threatened to go on strike until
the decree was revoked, and there were calls for the “downfall of the
regime” — the rallying cry in the uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak —
during a meeting of judges in Cairo. Morsi’s opponents and supports have
called rival demonstrations on Tuesday[27 Nov.] over his decree that has
triggered concern in the West.

Issued late on Thursday[22 Nov.], it marks an effort by Morsi to consolidate
his influence after he successfully sidelined Mubarak-era generals in
August. It defends from judicial review decisions taken by Morsi until a new
parliament is elected in a vote expected early next year.

It also shields the Islamist-dominated assembly writing Egypt’s new
constitution from a raft of legal challenges that have threatened the body
with dissolution, and offers the same protection to the Islamist-controlled
upper house of parliament. Egypt’s highest judicial authority, the Supreme
Judicial Council, said the decree was an “unprecedented attack” on the
independence of the judiciary.

Youths clashed sporadically with police near Tahrir Square, the epicentre of
the uprising that toppled Mubarak in 2011, following Friday’s[23 Nov.]
violence in which more than 300 people were injured across Egypt. Activists
camped out for a second day in the square, setting up makeshift barricades
to keep out traffic.

Liberal, leftist and socialist parties called for a big protest Tuesday[27
Nov.] to force Morsi to row back on a decree they say has exposed the
autocratic impulses of a man once jailed by Mubarak.

In a sign of the polarisation in the country, the Muslim Brotherhood — the
group that propelled Morsi to power — called its own protests that day to
support the president’s decree.

At least three Brotherhood offices were attacked on Friday.

“We are facing a historic moment in which we either complete our revolution
or we abandon it to become prey for a group that has put its narrow party
interests above the national interest,” the liberal Dustour Party said in a
statement.

Morsi also assigned himself new authority to sack the prosecutor general and
appoint a new one. The dismissed prosecutor general, Abdel Maguid Mahmoud,
was given a hero’s welcome by several thousand judges who attended the
session of Egypt’s Judges’ Club in Cairo on Saturday[24 Nov.].

Ahmed Zind, head of the Judges’ Club, introduced Mahmoud by his old title,
in open defiance of Morsi’s decree.

The Morsi administration has defended the decree on the grounds that it aims
to speed up a protracted transition from Mubarak’s rule to a new system of
democratic government.

Analysts say it reflects the Brotherhood’s suspicion towards sections of a
judiciary unreformed from Mubarak’s days.

“It aims to sideline Morsi’s enemies in the judiciary and ultimately to
impose and head off any legal challenges to the constitution,” said Elijah
Zarwan, a fellow with the European Council on Foreign Relations.

“We are in a situation now where both sides are escalating and its getting
harder and harder to see how either side can gracefully climb down.”

Following a day of violence in Cairo, Alexandria, Port Said and Suez, the
smell of teargas hung over Tahrir Square.

A handful of hardcore activists hurling rocks battled riot police in the
streets near the square, where several thousand protesters massed on
Friday[23 Nov.] to demonstrate against the decree that has rallied
opposition ranks against Morsi.

Al Masry Al Youm, one of Egypt’s most widely read dailies, hailed Friday’s[23
Nov.] protest as “the November 23 Intifada”, invoking the Arabic word for
uprising. “The people support the president’s decisions,” declared Freedom
and Justice, the newspaper run by the Brotherhood’s political party.

The ultra-orthodox Salafist Islamist groups that have been pushing for
tighter application of Islamic law in the new constitution have rallied
behind the decree.

The Nour Party, one such group, stated its support for the Morsi decree. Al
Gamaa Al Islamiya, which carried arms against the state in the 1990s, said
it would save the revolution from what it described as remnants of the
Mubarak regime.

Morsi is facing the biggest storm of criticism since he won the presidential
election in June.

Samir Morkos, a Christian assistant to Morsi, had told the president he
wanted to resign,” said Yasser Ali, Morsi’s spokesperson. “The president has
spoken to him today but the decision to resign is yet to be taken,” Ali told
Reuters.

Morsi addressed his supporters outside the presidential palace on Friday[23
Nov.]. He said opposition did not worry him, but it had to be “real and
strong”.

Morsi is now confronted with a domestic crisis just as his administration
won international praise for mediating an end to the eight-day war between
Israel and Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

“The decisions and declarations announced on November 22 raise concerns for
many Egyptians and for the international community,” US State Department
spokesperson Victoria Nuland said.

The European Union urged Morsi to respect the democratic process, while the
United Nations expressed fears about human rights

+++SOURCE: Jordan Times 25 Nov.’12:”Two powers, Qatar and Iran, try to sway
Hamas”, by Associated Press
SUBJECT:Rivals Qatar and Iran court Hamas

QUOTES:”Qatar’s influence with Hamas could edge it away from armed action to
diplomacy”; “Iran,meanwhile is envigorating its long- term role as the
builder of the rocket arsenal for Hamas’ military wing”; “Hamas is happy to
play both sides”

FULL TEXT:DUBAI — The courtship of Hamas between rivals Iran and Qatar has
been one of the Middle East’s intriguing subplots of the Arab Spring.

The bloodshed in Gaza has now sharpened their competition for influence with
the Palestinian group and the direction it takes in the future.

Qatar has sought to use its vast wealth to win over Hamas with investments
and humanitarian aid and encouraging Arab partners to do the same.

Qatar’s influence with Hamas could edge it away from armed action towards
diplomacy.

Iran, meanwhile, is invigorating its long-time role as the builder of the
rocket arsenal for Hamas’ military wing.

For Hamas, there are benefits in both directions — and it’s happy to play
both sides.

During a celebration rally in Gaza City after an Egyptian-mediated ceasefire
came into place ending fighting between Israel and Hamas, Gazans wildly
waved flags of Qatar, along with those of Egypt and Turkey, in gratitude for
those countries’ diplomatic support.

At the same time, Hamas’ leader-in-exile Khaled Mishaal, who is based out of
Qatar, gave a very public thanks to Iran for standing by Gaza with crucial
military assistance.

Fighters in Gaza also hailed the new reach of their arsenal, with
Iranian-designed Fajr-5 rattling Israel by reaching the outskirts of Tel
Aviv and Jerusalem.

Visiting the Syrian capital Damascus on Friday[23 Nov.], Iran Parliament
Speaker Ali Larijani, who is close to the country’s supreme leader, promised
leaders of Palestinian fighter groups that his country would continue to
boost “the resistance’s capabilities in confronting the Zionist arrogance
and aggression”, according to Palestinian official Khaled Abdul-Hamid, who
attended the meeting.

The reminder of Hamas’ reliance on Iran for weapons could help smooth a
relationship that has been running through a rough patch because of the
civil war in Syria, Iran’s top ally.

Embarrassed by the Syrian regime’s crackdown on a mainly Sunni Muslim
uprising, Hamas leaders based in Damascus for years broke with Syria and
left for Qatar and Egypt.

Though Iran continued to send weapons to Hamas, the break undermined the
“Axis of Resistance” grouping Syria, Hizbollah and Hamas that Iran has
assembled in the Arab world.

It’s doubtful Iran can fully reclaim its position as the main big brother
for Hamas. But Tehran’s image is certain to receive some lingering boost in
Gaza.

For Hamas, hyper-rich Qatar is a political and economic lifeline, a key part
of the group’s attempts to bolster its ties with the Western-backed Gulf
states in efforts to gain more international legitimacy.

Last month, Qatar’s emir became the first head of state to visit the Gaza
Strip since Hamas took control five years ago. The Gulf state pledged nearly
$500 million in aid and a song called “Thank you, Qatar” played on Gaza
radio and TV as the emir was given a hero’s welcome.

During the heat of the Gaza battle the past week, Qatar’s prime minister
gave a blistering dressing down to the Arab League during an emergency
meeting, saying Arab nations had to do more to fight Gaza’s poverty and
isolation than just pass resolutions.

“We can’t give hope without delivering,” Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassem Al Thani
told the gathering last week in Cairo.

Two days after his outburst at the Arab League meeting in Cairo, Sheikh
Hamad suggested that his country would be willing to open dialogue with
Israel on a long-term Gaza truce if it leads to lifting the blockade. The
Arab Spring, he added, has made Israel feel more vulnerable, but also
perhaps more ready to make deals.

“We need to talk with everyone to reach a comprehensive peace,” he told CNN
on Monday.

For Qatar, the outreach to Gaza also is part of far wider ambitions to
become a major policy-shaper in the Middle East. The Gulf nation has emerged
as a strong backer of the Muslim Brotherhood, which has risen to power in
Tunisia and Egypt after the fall of those countries’ autocratic leaders in
early 2011.

In February, Qatar brokered talks between Hamas’ Mishaal and his long-time
rival, internationally backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Qatar has also sought to influence Syria’s rebels. This month, it hosted
Syrian opposition groups in a breakthrough effort to unite rebel factions
under one coalition, which has opened the way for greater international
recognition and promises of aid.

Qatar had led calls to supply Syrian rebels with heavy weapons to counter
air and tank attacks by Bashar Assad’s forces. Qatar also was a key backer
of the Libyan uprising.

On Thursday,[22 Nov.] Qatar also invited the newly formed Syrian opposition
coalition to appoint its ambassador to the Gulf state, the Qatari news
agency reported.

Salman Sheikh, director of the Brookings Doha Centre in Qatar, said it’s not
a matter of “having to go all for Iran or all for Qatar”.

“What Qatar is trying to do is change the reality. They are trying to blaze
a trail that will weaken the international isolation of Gaza from the
Israeli blockade,” he said.

Qatar has so far stopped short of offering any kind of military support for
Gaza to avoid a rift with Washington, Israel’s most powerful ally.

Iran takes a very different view.

Officials in Tehran boasted this week about its long-time arms support for
Hamas fighters — part of Iran’s bookend strategy to equip anti-Israel
factions in Gaza and Hizbollah in Lebanon on Israel’s northern border.

Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, said
Tehran supplied fighters in Gaza with the technology to “quickly” produce
the Fajr-5 missiles.

The statement fits with previous Iranian denials that it is not directly
sending missiles to Gaza, but suggests close coordination on construction
and movement of supplies, presumably through the smugglers’ tunnels linking
Gaza and Egypt.

The Gaza fighting, at the least, bought Iran some restored street
credibility as its image was battered by its backing for the regime of Assad
in Syria. “The war with Israel reminded Hamas that Israel is the main issue
not Syria,” said Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, a professor in politics in
Tehran’s Allameh University.

But Hamid Reza Shokouhi, editor of Iran’s independent Mardomsalari daily,
said the bump in Iran’s popularity with Gazans could be only “short-term”.
He questioned whether Iran could sustain its influence in Gaza against the
almost unlimited resources of Qatar and its Gulf partners.

Iran’s foreign ministry and a parliamentary committee have applied for
permission to visit Gaza in the coming weeks via the border crossing with
Egypt, said Hasan Qashqavi, deputy foreign minister in charge of consular
affairs.

Qatar’s prime minister said the competition for influence is Gaza only
likely to intensify as other nations such as Turkey and Egypt reach out.

“We are not trying to take Hamas from anybody else, from Iran or others,” he
said in the CNN interview. “Hamas, they have to decide for themselves. I
think they are pretty mature to decide for themselves

+++SOURCE: Jordan Times 23 Nov.’12:”With ceasefire. US pins hopes on Egypt”,
Associated Press
SUBJECT: Egypt’s responsibility
QUOTE:”a ceasefire that puts heavy responsibility on Egypt’s young Islamist
government to ensure the end of Hamas rockets from the Gaza Strip”

FULL TEXT:WASHINGTON — In frantic diplomacy, the Obama administration helped
seal a ceasefire that puts heavy responsibility on Egypt’s young Islamist
government to ensure the end of Hamas rockets from the Gaza Strip. If Egypt
delivers, the United States will have rediscovered the stalwart regional
partner it has lacked since the autocratic Hosni Mubarak was overthrown in a
popular revolt last year. If it fails, stability across the region will
suffer.

Much depends on whether the agreement brokered by Egyptian President Mohamed
Morsi proves durable and halts not only a week of open warfare that killed
more than 140 Palestinians and five Israelis, but definitively ends rocket
attacks on southern Israel from Gaza that grew increasingly frequent in
recent months.

Standing beside Morsi’s foreign minister in Cairo, US Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton said the deal would improve conditions for Gaza’s 1.5
million people while offering greater security for Israel — but the
fierceness of the recent encounter meant no one was declaring it a success
yet.

And US officials familiar with Clinton’s last-minute diplomatic shuttling
warned against making any judgements until the ceasefire proves to hold.

The US is counting on Morsi to shepherd the peace. The former Muslim
Brotherhood leader emerged from his first major international crisis with
enhanced prestige and now has a track record as someone who can mediate
between the two sworn enemies, something the United States cannot do because
it considers Hamas a terrorist organisation and doesn’t allow contacts
between its members and American officials.

Hours into the ceasefire, Morsi seemed to have persuaded Hamas, a
Brotherhood offshoot, to abide by its conditions.

He won immediate praise from Washington, with President Barack Obama
thanking Morsi “for his efforts to achieve a sustainable ceasefire and for
his personal leadership in negotiating a ceasefire proposal.” In their sixth
phone call since last week, Obama on Wednesday[21 Nov.] welcomed Morsi’s
“commitment to regional security” and the leaders agreed to work towards a
“more durable solution to the situation in Gaza”, according to a White House
statement.

The diplomacy clearly strengthened a US-Egyptian partnership that has been
strained in the 21 months since Egyptians toppled Mubarak. In that time,
Washington angrily protested Cairo’s crackdown on US-funded pro-democracy
groups, its slow response to attacks on the Israeli and US embassies and its
inconsistent control over the Sinai Peninsula. The US regularly threatened
to withhold aid and Obama remarked in September that he no longer considered
Egypt an ally.

That breakdown was a marked reversal from the legacy of Mubarak’s
three-decade autocracy, when the Arab world’s most populous and influential
country closely cooperated with the United States in fighting Al Qaeda,
containing the influence of Iran and mediating between Israel and the
Palestinians. Although Morsi’s government has promised to abide by the 1979
Camp David Accords with Israel, his Muslim Brotherhood resume had raised
concerns about his true commitment. And continued comments against the peace
treaty from Brotherhood members raised ire in Israel and the US

Getting Egypt back on board as a good-faith mediator appeared to be a major
selling point in winning the Israelis to the conditions of the ceasefire.
“Egypt shall receive assurances from each party” that they are committed to
the deal, the ceasefire agreement says. “Each party shall commit itself not
to perform any acts that would break this understanding. ... In case of any
observations, Egypt — as the sponsor of this understanding — shall be
informed to follow up.”

In a telephone conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,
Obama seemed to be trying to re-establish the strong triangular relationship
between the US, Israel and Egypt that had been a bulwark of regional
security under Mubarak.

The president expressed his “appreciation” for Netanyahu’s willingness to
work with Egypt’s government on the package and reiterated full US support
for Israel’s right to self-defence. But the White House noted that Obama had
specifically “recommended” that Netanyahu accept the Egyptian proposal.
Obama also vowed to help the Israelis address the smuggling of weapons and
explosives into Gaza and pledged additional funding for Iron Dome and other
US-Israeli missile defense programs.

Israel launched well over 1,500 air strikes and other attacks on targets in
Gaza, while more than 1,000 rockets pounded Israel. In all, more than 140
Palestinians, including dozens of civilians, were killed, while five
Israelis died in the fighting.

According to the ceasefire agreement, Israel and all Palestinian militant
groups agreed to halt “all hostilities”. For the Palestinians, that means an
end to Israeli air strikes and assassinations of wanted militants. For
Israel, it brings a halt to rocket fire and attempts at cross-border
incursions from Gaza.

After a 24-hour cooling-off period, the ceasefire calls for “opening the
crossings and facilitating the movement of people and transfer of goods, and
refraining from restricting residents’ free movement”. That could amount to
the biggest easing of Israel’s blockade of Gaza since it shut off the
territory from much of the world five years ago. Hamas officials said
details on the new border arrangements would have to be negotiated.

If the ceasefire holds, Israel and Egypt will be clear beneficiaries. But
Hamas, too, comes out a winner, having long been isolated by Washington’s
Arab allies but now embraced by much of the region.

The Western-backed government of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, in
charge of the West Bank, was cut out of the ceasefire equation, and Clinton
reminded him during her visit to Ramallah that Washington remains firmly
opposed to his plan for UN recognition of an independent Palestine.

The Obama administration hopes the end to the immediate crisis could advance
a broader Mideast strategy that promotes Israeli-Palestinian peace,
reinforces the Israel-Egypt peace treaty and reduces Iran’s influence in
Gaza. The calculation is that Morsi’s mediation between Israel and Hamas and
elevated standing on the world stage brings with it a responsibility to
maintain the ceasefire, forcing him to deliver on Israel’s behalf.

In the US view, maintenance of the truce also means cracking down on Iranian
weapons shipments to Gaza. Iran has long used Hamas and other groups as
proxy forces against Israel.

The goal of a larger peace treaty that allows for the establishment of an
independent Palestine may remain far away, but it would be not be feasible
if Hamas continues to launch projectiles at the Israel and Arab powers led
by Egypt aren’t engaged in the process

==========
Sue Lerner - Associate, IMRA

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