Thursday, December 26, 2013

Forbidding the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood

Egypt has forbidden the Muslim Brotherhood. The move comes a day after an suicide bombing attack on a police headquarters where 16 people were killed by a splinter group from the Muslim Brotherhood.

The events remind me to the Aleppo Artillery School massacre in 1979 where a Muslim Brotherhood splinter group killed some 70 Alawite cadets. That too proved a watershed that resulted in oppression of the Brotherhood. Then too the Brotherhood denied involvement but nobody really believed them as their whole attitude was such as to encourage such actions.

The Aleppo attack was the beginning of a major Brotherhood uprising that ended with the Hama massacre in 1982. It has to be seen what the Brotherhood will do next. Since the coup by Sisi they have been on collision course with the military government.

The Syrian Brotherhood chose the path of violence. Syria is still paying the price. The Egyptian Brotherhood can do better by openly rejecting violence - in the interest of the country. They will still stay forbidden for some time. But in the longer term it will open the road for them to become an active player in the political process. On the other hand, when they choose violence the Egyptian government has no choice but to forbid and persecute them.

The slogan that government violence forces them to their own violence work nicely in propaganda - and is often used by the US government - but in reality it is not how things work. The monopoly of violence for the government is an essential part - not only from every democracy but from every state.

Friday, December 20, 2013

China's risky rise

China is well on its way to become the new superpower. That brings risks. It was Germany's bumpy rise that contributed a lot to the two world wars.

Yet it doesn't have to be. The rise of the US to superpower went without bumps. Sure, it helped that the competition was broke after World War II and that it had friendly relations with the UK - its main rival for the position. But there are lessons to be learned.

The US largely kept to itself until World War II. That war was its entry on the world stage. It was an entry on demand. And when it had made its contribution in and after the war nobody questioned its right on superpower status.

In contrast Germany aimed for the attributes of its new big power status and it the process generated a lot of conflicts that created a climate of distrust and conflict and set the stage for World War I.

Under Deng China mostly followed the American model and focused on its internal affairs. Unfortunately lately it has increasingly followed Germany's model.

The German model looks at first sight attractive. But it is a matter of being penny wise and pound foolish. In the end you pay the price for being a pain in the ass. If you follow the American model on the other hand - jumping in where it is needed, for example in peace missions - you will earn your status as superpower and be rewarded.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Wikileaks on Otpor, Popovic and Stratfor

The Wikileaks Global Intelligence files that were caught from the Stratfor database show rather close connections between Stratfor and Srdja Popovic according to the article Wikileaks Docs Expose Famed Serbian Activist’s Ties to ‘Shadow CIA’. Some of the issues mentioned:
- Popovic gave lectures at Stratfor
- he passed information to Stratfor about on-the-ground activist events in countries around the world - without their consent
- During the Arab Spring, when Popovic had an interview with CNN he turned to Stratfor for talking points.
- Popovic's wife worked during one year at Stratfor
- Stratfor gave him a free subscription

A copy of the article can be found at the Occupy website as Exposed: Globally Renowned Activist Collaborated With Intelligence Firm Stratfor

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Peaceful change in the Arab world

A nice report (The Other Arab Awakening) in the NY Times tells how comments on Twitter and Facebook and the pressure of the Arab Spring are forcing the rulers of the Gulf States - including Saudi Arabia - to pay more attention to the needs of their subjects.