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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler

Shanna Tova, a good year to everyone.

Here's Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler for Tuesday, September 25.
1) There must be a pony in here

The Washington Post opines on the aftermath of the anti-American riots in the Middle East, In the Middle East, a pro-American turn:
People carrying pro-American signs pushed their way into the encampment of Ansar al-Sharia, which in spite of its denials is suspected of complicity in the death of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. The militants were forced out of the base, and the demonstrators burned part of it before turning it over to the Libyan army. On Sunday, the interim government, which had been wavering on how to react to the assault on the consulate, ordered the dismantlement of all militias not under its authority and said they must withdraw from government property within 48 hours. In Egypt, where the government’s slow reaction to protests outside the U.S. Embassy in Cairo prompted a phone call from President Obama to the newly elected Islamist President Mohamed Morsi, there has been a chorus of condemnation of the violence, with the country’s most prestigious sheiks and other Islamic leaders calling it shameful and contrary to Islam; some even issued fatwas against it. The Middle East Media Research Institute has documented numerous commentaries by newspaper columnists warning against incitement by radical groups.
Yes, to be sure, the pro-Americanism of many in Libya is encouraging. But, as Barry Rubin explains problems in Libya undermine the friendliness of its current government.

The editorial is correct that there are warnings in the Arab media against extremism, but little of what MEMRI published was explicitly pro-American. (More correctly the sentiment seemed to be anti-blatant and violent anti-Americanism.)

What to do? In Libya the editorial suggests:
Libya’s biggest problem is that its new democratic government is too weak to take on the scores of militias around the country that do not accept its authority, including some that may be allied with al-Qaeda. Though last week’s popular demonstrations gave it a political boost, the government could use greater security assistance from the United States and other NATO governments — including training and help with intelligence.
From what Barry Rubin writes, what's missing is a suggestion that extreme elements be rooted out of the government. But that's clearly easier said than done. Without ridding the government of infiltrators, the security assistance will help the wrong people too.

The suggestion for Egypt is more troubling.
In Egypt, the Obama administration has been working on a $1 billion debt-forgiveness deal that could help revive the Egyptian economy, but the oft-postponed pact was put on hold again after the Sept. 11 demonstration. Mr. Obama may wish to deflect election-eve Republican claims that he is showing weakness in the face of attacks on Americans. But such demagoguery ought not to derail the effort to help stabilize Egypt’s economy and reinforce free-market policies.
But Morsi is not so innocent. Not only did he fail to protect the American embassy despite advanced warning of the protests, deliberately scheduled for 9/11, he is demanding the release of "the blind Sheikh," Omar Abdel Rahman. Demanding Sheikh Rahman's release at a time when he is also requesting American aid is an affront. Giving in to Morsi's demands despite his disregard for American sovereignty and sensitivity is "showing weakness." Demagoguery is imputing bad faith to those who are legitimately pointing out bad faith in others.

Michael Mukasey, who, as a judge, sentenced the Sheikh, writes (available in it entirety via the link here):
The State Department's spokesperson last week, after the ceremonial "let me be clear," said that there had been no approach on this topic "recently" from any "senior" official of the Egyptian government—an elucidation laden with ambiguity and certain to send chills up the spine of anyone familiar with Abdel Rahman's record and President Morsi's inclinations. All of this plays out in the context of an Obama administration that hasn't hesitated to employ executive orders to get around Congress, led by a president who was caught on a "hot mike" assuring Russia's leaders that if he wins re-election he will have more "flexibility" to accommodate Russian demands that the U.S. curtail missile defense in Europe. It appears that the only course open now is for Congress to demand an unequivocal statement from the State Department and the White House that the U.S. will not transfer or release Abdel Rahman under any circumstances. Absent such assurance, it may be time for Congress to make clear that such a transfer or release could be considered the kind of gross betrayal of public trust that would justify removal from high office.
2) Completing Mackey's record

The other day I referred to a Robert Mackey post, which criticized statements made by Governor Romney. In Context noted that the post was even more misleading than I charged.

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