Thursday, August 15, 2013

Too Good to be True in Afghanistan and Watching Egypt Circle the Drain

We consider our brothers and give him welcome whoever openly expresses regret about his support for occupation.
Mullah Mohammed Omar, founder and spiritual leader of the Taliban

Mr. Omar said that on August 6th. It was his way of reassuring the world his chosen guys wouldn't run amok, executing Afghans who had supported the foreign coalition which had forced the Taliban out of power. At the same time he said he and his followers were perfectly happy to share power and they were all for modern education. He even went so far as to say they wouldn't oppose girls and women getting an education--well, sort of. There were some pretty specific limits with that one, but hey, it still beat the hell out of what the Taliban had previously thought about the subject.

Of course, as any American can tell you, campaign promises are never to be trusted. In fact, in most cases, they should be considered nothing more than sheer flights of fantasy and the rest of the time out right propaganda.

More often than not reality rears its ugly head shortly after perfumed statements are issued and pledges are made to policies that sound too good to be true.

NBC reported yesterday that Taliban fighters kidnapped Fariba Ahmadi Kakar and her three children. Ms. Kakar is a member of the current Afghan parliament. Today CBS is reporting her kids and driver were released, but she is still being held. Her captors say she'll be let go only after the government frees four unnamed Taliban commanders currently held in stir.

Despite the calming words from Mr. Omar, the highway between Kabul and Kandahar is becoming increasingly dangerous for any one who is considered on the wrong side by his troops. Last week eight Afghans were dragged off a bus. Their bodies were later found by security forces. Each of them had been shot in the head.

In addition another female lawmaker and her convoy were ambushed last week. She was seriously wounded along with her husband, son, and daughter. A second daughter was killed in the attack.

Obviously Mullah Mohammed Omar's idea of a peaceful resolution in Afghanistan is a tad different from that of many people. At this point one can only imagine what his concept of modern education, women's education, and power sharing is. The picture that immediately comes to mind isn't a pretty one.

Meanwhile, it appears law and civil order in Egypt is circling the drain.

Security forces moved in with bulldozers, tear gas, and small arms to clear two sit in camps occupied by supporters of ousted president Mohammed Morsi. The fighting quickly spiraled and the body count cited by a number of media sources sits at 525. There are also reports that nearly 3,600 have been wounded or injured. The blood shed was so appalling, Mohamed ElBaradei, a former winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, quit his post in the interim government.

Brotherhood spokesman, Gehad El-Haddad issued a statement saying, "We will not bow down, we will not cower."

Apparently not--in Cairo's Giza district Muslim Brotherhood members and supporters attacked a government building with gun fire and Molotov cocktails and Christian churches were assaulted by mobs in three Nile Valley towns. In the city of Suez 84 suspects were turned over to military prosecutors on charges of murder and burning other churches.

Another Nobel Peace Prize winner, Barak H. Obama was quoted as saying, "While we want to sustain our relationship with Egypt, our traditional cooperation cannot continue as usual when civilians are being killed in the streets and rights are being rolled back." He also canceled a joint military exercise which was scheduled for September. While the symbolism of such an act might hold some significance, in reality it has all the punch of weak tea. I mean let's face it, odds are the Egyptian army is going to have more on its mind than conducting some maneuvers with Americans in the Sinai next month. Full blown civil wars have a tendency to make such endeavors trivial at best.

In their continuing effort to straddle this barbed wire fence, both Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry still refuse to call Morsi's ouster a coup. In fact the president referred to the overthrow of the freely elected Mr. Morsi as, "a chance for reconciliation." He also said any change in the interim government was, "a task for the Egyptian people."

That would be a pretty stiff task at this point. So long as the Egyptian army and air force don't fracture along religious lines the Muslim Brotherhood and other Morsi supporters can cause some havoc, but this is a fight they cannot win. However, if some units and their commanders balk at the mass violence and there are even isolated instances of mutiny, all bets are off.

The truth is, at this point, there is no going back for the Egyptian military high command, or the interim government who depends on them. To let the Muslim Brotherhood, either through Morsi, or some one else, back in power now, is to stick your head in a noose and wait for the trap door to drop. Luckily for them, at the moment anyway, they have the support of tens of millions of their fellow countrymen and women who consider the Brotherhood more of a threat to democracy than they are.

Yes, perception is everything. As long as you cultivate it, nurture it, and don't do anything to alter it in the hearts and minds of the people you will be fine. Betray it, even once, and you'll quickly find yourself as dead as a duck can get.

After all, as our old pal Billy Shakespeare said, "For there is nothing either good, or bad, but thinking makes it so."


sic vita est


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