“We Will Meet With Full Force”

Yesterday (Sunday), the Egyptian army killed 36 Islamists who had been taken into government custody. It is now Monday, and at least 24 police officers are reported to have been killed this morning by Islamists who ambushed their minibuses in the northern Sinai, apparently in direct retribution. Some reports indicate that the Islamists killed the officers execution-style, by ordering them to lie on the ground and then shooting them to death.

We already knew that Islamists of the Brotherhood stripe are comfortable with summary executions of their enemies, but the army’s acknowledged, unapologetic mowing down of civilians in custody warrants special note. This act removes any lingering doubt, following the destruction of the pro-Morsi sit-ins in Ramses Square, that the army will do whatever it deems necessary, no matter how morally reprehensible, to crush the Islamist opposition.

If you’re wondering why the army isn’t worried about the Americans turning off the $1.5 billion aid tap in response to such acts, it’s because the Gulf monarchies, which are horrified by Islamist ascendancy, are pouring money into the Egyptian government’s coffers to the tune of $12 billion. The Saudis and the UAE have General al-Sisi’s back, so Western revulsion at the army’s tactics is no longer particularly relevant. 

So get ready for more. Yesterday, General al-Sisi made his first public statement since the crackdown. “We will not accept any more attacks,” he said. “We will meet with full force.”

  1. Douglas

    A military dictatorship vs. an Islamist army. This is the Eastern Front with sand and pyramids. There are no good guys.

    Someone remind me why we helped them overthrow Mubarak again?

  2. The Mugwump

    Something is not adding up.  Judith writes that the Gulf states are horrified by Islamic ascendancy.  And yet the Saudis came to power with the backing of Wahhabi extremists.  Is al Qaeda not the child of these same radical elements, supported and funded by these same Saudis?  Is this a case of the monster turning on its master?   

  3. iWc

    The army is growing on me. This is not Syria, where both sides are pure evil. The Egyptian military may be the last thing standing between the West and a repeat of an Iranian-style revolution.

    The reckoning with the forces of Islam needed to come sooner or later, and it looks like the Gulf States are, quite reasonably, seeing Egypt as the front line  in their own war. 

    The protection money that the gulf dictatorships have paid for decades is starting to come back and bit them. Not only is there a poetic justice to it, but if the gulf states now seize the opportunity to try to fix things by warring on Islamists, it could be a very good thing, indeed.

  4. ctlaw
    ~Paules: Something is not adding up.  Judith writes that the Gulf states are horrified by Islamic ascendancy.  And yet the Saudis came to power with the backing of Wahhabi extremists.  Is al Qaeda not the child of these same radical elements, supported and funded by these same Saudis?  Is this a case of the monster turning on its master?    · 2 hours ago

    Yes, the monster is turning on its master.

    Not assuming the Saudis fools, I’ll assume they regard their two main existential threats as being: (1) Shia radicalism, including rebellion by their own Shia and military action from Iran); and (2) Sunni radicalism including Wahhabis who are repulsed by the lifestyles of the monarchy, etc. Thus, the latter will be supported where it comes into conflict with the former as in Syria.

  5. ctlaw
    Judith Levy, Ed.: …If you’re wondering why the army isn’t worried about the Americans turning off the $1.5 billion aid tap in response to such acts, it’s because the Gulf monarchies, which are horrified by Islamist ascendancy, are pouring money into the Egyptian government’s coffers to the tune of $12 billion. The Saudis and the UAE have General al-Sisi’s back, so Western revulsion at the army’s tactics is no longer particularly relevant. 

    We are likely to see the start of a new era in which the Arab states that have previously been military customers of the US turn to Russia and China as major sources of military equipment. It’s going to be small stuff now, but I expect we’ll soon see a major deal on Russian or Chinese stealth fighters.

  6. Zafar

    Apparently not those very same ones.

    ~Paules:

    Is al Qaeda not the child of these same radical elements, supported and funded by these same Saudis?  

  7. raycon and lindacon

    It’s difficult to add much to @ctlaw above.  Obama has, indeed, brought change to the US relationships in the Mid-East.  

    We were not trusted, but we were thought to be a player before, now we are irrelevant.

  8. Nick Stuart

    Which faction would better serve US interests? The Muslim Brotherhood or the Army?

    Neutrality (which seems to be the Obama Administration’s play, sit on the sidelines and see what works out) will only alienate and force both sides to find other backers.

    So we pick one or the other.

    Do we want the Suez canal in the hands of the Army, or the Muslim Brotherhood?

    The MB is hardly a Ghandi-like nonviolent organization. They would cheerfully kill hundreds of civilians and soldiers if they had the means and it served their interests. Scores of Christian churches have been burned, and Christians killed (with very little notice in the US media).

    So I’ll pick the Army. They’re SOBs, but we need to make them our SOBs.

  9. Manfred Arcane
    “The MB is hardly a Ghandi-like nonviolent organization”??  

    Sir, that is the understatement of the Century.  Apply that statement to the Nazis and see how it sounds.  MB=Nazis is far more true than not.  We do not want to wait until they get entrenched in power to find out just exactly how close that parallel runs, I don’t think.

  10. Chris Deleon

    MB = Nazis.  Many in Egypt are already saying this.  They should know.

  11. Astonishing
    Douglas: A military dictatorship vs. an Islamist army.  . . . There are no good guys. . . .

    At this point, military dictatorship is the least bad alternative, by far.

     

    Douglas: . . . Someone remind me why we helped them overthrow Mubarak again?

    Someone remind me why Carter snatched the rug from under the Shah?

    Never mind–the reason remains the same: Carter was stupid. Obama is stupid. Fuzzy-wuzzy dreams of justice, human rights, democracy, and a people’s right of self-determination obscured common sense perceptions of reality.

    Doing good, and avoiding doing evil, require more than just having “your heart in the right place.”

    Wishing and hoping do not make a rational foreign policy.

    The road to the hot place is paved with deposed dictators.

    Crowd control never goes out of style.

  12. James Gawron

    Judith,

    I am forced to remind you that the Muslim Brotherhood literally are fascists.  They formed in the 1920s along with Mussolini’s and Hitler’s movements.  They were in direct contact and co-ordination with Hitler before and during the final solution.

    Perhaps there are Leopards who change their spots.  I would not believe this without a great deal of evidence.   If the Leopard showed the slightest inclination to taste human flesh, I certainly wouldn’t try to have it as a house pet.

    El Sisi is not Mubarak.  He is young, your age Judith not mine.  I think Egypt has its sites set on economic emergence like India and China.  The net is opening a world of opportunity.  I think if El Sisi has the chance he will secure control of the country then steer to a constitutional government that secures rights and commerce as quickly as possible.  He shows sensitivity to minority rights, going so far as offering to rebuild the burned Coptic Churches.

    To believe the Brotherhood is to chug-a-lug the Kool-Aid.  When you wake-up you are going to have one big hang over, if you wake up!

    Regards,

    Jim

  13. Judith Levy, Ed.
    C

    Hi James Gawron,

    What in what I wrote suggests I have the remotest sympathy for the Muslim Brotherhood?! Lest anyone else be confused on this point, let the record reflect that I am well aware of the Brotherhood’s Nazi connections, I’m fully seized of their ultimate goals, and I am not on their side in any way, shape or form.

    Nor am I comfortable with the spectacle of a government security force gunning down a couple of dozen civilians in custody. My revulsion at an act that I think anyone would agree is barbaric on its face should in no way be interpreted as support for the Brotherhood.

  14. Zafar

    That’s certainly one response : – ) though they tend to shoot back, and then there are more of them so you have to start again.

  15. Zafar

    From Al-J.

    http://tinyurl.com/lssh92v

    Will Egypt repeat Algeria’s ‘black decade’? 

    Comparisons between Egypt’s present crisis and the upheaval in 1990s Algeria gain credibility.

    “The idea [behind the Egypt-Algeria comparisons] is to heed the lessons of history,” Bitar said. “The best way to defeat Islamists is not to halt the electoral process. Authoritarian [military] rule only offers temporary relief to liberals and democrats. It does not answer the questions of Islamic radicalism.”

  16. Carey J.

    The Saudi government has been paying off the freaks ever since they seized the Grand Mosque back in 1979. Paying them to take their jihad out of Saudi Arabia and into the rest of the world. Sort of like dumping theological toxic waste on their neighbors. And it’s starting to come home to roost. 

    If human civilization is fortunate, the freaks and the sort-of freaks will turn Syria and Egypt into an Islamic version of the Thirty Years War, killing themselves off, and raising the average level of sanity in the Ummah. 

  17. Carey J.
    Zafar:  … It does not answer the questions of Islamic radicalism.” · 2 hours ago

    The answer to Islamic radicals is to put a bullet through their brains.  I realize this is often a difficult shot, because Islamic radicals’ brains are rather small, and their skulls are pretty thick. Armor-piercing bullets would probably work, but the shot placement is tricky. 

  18. James Gawron
    Judith Levy, Ed.: Hi James Gawron,

    What in what I wrote suggests I have the remotest sympathy for the Muslim Brotherhood?! Lest anyone else be confused on this point, let the record reflect that I am well aware of the Brotherhood’s Nazi connections, I’m fully seized of their ultimate goals, and I am not on their side in any way, shape or form.

    Nor am I comfortable with the spectacle of a government security force gunning down a couple of dozen civilians in custody. My revulsion at an act that I think anyone would agree is barbaric on its face should in no way be interpreted as support for the Brotherhood. · 38 minutes ago

    Nothing has been confirmed as far as the prisoner’s deaths.  An armed attempt to free them is well within the modes operandi of the Brotherhood.  The ‘civilian’ nature of the prisoners is also in question.  Second guessing security forces in a live firefight without any other information is the type of reporting the NYTimes does.

    That the 24 police officers were taken hostage and assassinated is the one fact that we can be sure of.   More spots of the Leopard.

    Regards,

    Jim

  19. Astonishing

    In opposition to ”some reports” that those in custody were shot “execution style,” there’s this line from the NYTimes article, providing an account which Judith chose to not to include in  her description events:

    While confirming the killings of the detainees on Sunday, the Ministry of the Interior said the deaths were the consequence of an escape attempt by Islamist prisoners.

    Characterizing the event as “mowing down of civilians in custody,” Judith ignores and even obscures the possibility that those “civilians” were engaged in a (probably violent) escape attempt. With two conflicting accounts of the character of the event (execution versus escape attempt), Judith endorsed one account without mentioning the alternative account.

    Of course, we can have no clear idea what actually happened, but it is clear that Judith characterized the event in the light most unfavorable to the military.

    No doubt, there have been, and will be, many more acts of brutality on both sides. (There’s nothing more brutal than civil war.) Still, I’ll wager the Muslim Brothers have killed, and will kill, more innocents than the military, and would kill countless more if they retained or regain control of the levers of state power.

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