Among the many cautions the U.S. State Department has issued to visitors and ex-patriates in Egypt (now overwhelming Egyptian airports in their anxiety to flee what is coming) is this notice about landmines:
“In addition, travelers should be aware that landmines have caused many casualties, including deaths of U.S. citizens, in Egypt. All travelers should check with local authorities before embarking on off-road travel. Known minefields are not reliably marked by signs, but are sometimes enclosed by barbed wire. After heavy rains, which can cause flooding and the consequent shifting of landmines, travelers should be careful when driving through build-ups of sand on roadways. Though mines are found in other parts of Egypt, the highest concentrations are in World War II battlefields along the Mediterranean coast west of Alexandria, the Eastern Desert between Cairo, and the Suez Canal, and much of the Sinai Peninsula. Travelers are urged to be especially prudent in these areas.”
The landmines are largely left over from the German army’s defense of its position in North Africa. Landmines are not the only souvenir the Nazis left behind; there is also the poisonous Muslim Brotherhood, whose members were attracted to the Nazis’ anti-Semitic policies.
If there’s any confusion in American minds that these Egyptian rioters are simply the Egyptian version of our Tea Parties, here is an on-the-scene account from the Jerusalem Post by correspondent Melanie Lidman:
“Cairo – Saturday’s optimism on the streets of Cairo for imminent political change gave way to anger on Sunday, as thousands of demonstrators became increasingly frustrated with the lack of response from major world leaders, especially the US. During the main protest on Sunday in -downtown Cairo, one man painted a 20- meter-long message in flowing Arabic cursive that echoed across the square: ‘Go Away, Mubarak, you are from the Americans, and you’re working for them!’
“Egyptians understand that the world is waiting to see if President Hosni Mubarak falls to popular pressure before major leaders decide which side to support. But this is infuriating the demonstrators, who realize that six days of unrest have not accomplished their goal and that they need united international pressure in order to topple the almost-30-year incumbent.
“The protests have lacked a clear leader to unite them and provide an alternative to Mubarak, and demonstrators are beginning to focus their wrath not just on Mubarak and the country’s widespread corruption, but also on the United States and, to a lesser extent, Israel. They blame Israel and the U.S. for supporting a government because it is convenient for them, not because it is good for the Egyptian people.
“’The USA does not support democracy; they’re supporting Israel, which is like their baby,’ said Ahmed, a 26-year-old Cairo resident. ‘They think Egypt is functional because it’s in favor of their considerations.’
“’I don’t care if we have peace [with Israel] or not,” Ahmed continued, echoing the indifference of many demonstrators who don’t have a clear agenda for what they want a future Egypt to look like, as long as it does not include Mubarak. ‘But will Israel allow us to have a real president? For example, Turkey elected an Islamic government, but it was their choice. Will Israel give us the freedom to make the same choice?’ he asked.
“Demonstrators are relying on the foreign press to get their message to Obama.
“’Isn’t this democracy?’” they asked me over and over when I said I was a journalist from America, incredulous that the country held as the pinnacle of world democracy could ignore such widespread popular sentiment.
“’Obama has to be on our side. Where is your democracy?” asked Osam L, who works at a foreign bank in Cairo.
“You say Arabs are just donkeys, but the USA is supporting the system, not the people.”
“Sunday’s protests were much less violent, although there was more anger directed at international leaders. The main protest in Tahrir Square continued to be attended by thousands of demonstrators from all walks of life – toddlers with small flags draped around their shoulders raising a fist in solidarity, old men in traditional garb walking slowly with canes near the sidewalks, giggling school girls, whole families marching arm and arm, young professionals as well as laborers.
“’Those people that say we’re out here because of food or oil prices, that’s not true,” said Osam L. “I have enough to eat, thank God. I’m here for my freedom.’
“’What you are seeing here is an explosion. We have no other choice,’ yelled one demonstrator.”
Finally, Andrew McCarthy offers a detailed, cautionary insight into the dangers of the Muslim Brotherhood in a column in today’s National Review Online, http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/258419/fear-muslim-brotherhood-andrew-c-mccarthy:
“One might wonder,” McCarthy writes, “how an organization can be thought to have renounced violence when it has inspired more jihadists than any other, and when its Palestinian branch, the Islamic Resistance Movement, is probably more familiar to you by the name Hamas — a terrorist organization committed by charter to the violent destruction of Israel. Indeed, in recent years, the Brotherhood (a.k.a., the Ikhwan) has enthusiastically praised jihad and even applauded — albeit in more muted tones — Osama bin Laden.
“[Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna] was a practical revolutionary. On the one hand, he instructed his votaries to prepare for violence. They had to understand that, in the end — when the time was right, when the Brotherhood was finally strong enough that violent attacks would more likely achieve Ikhwan objectives than provoke crippling blowback — violence would surely be necessary to complete the revolution (meaning, to institute sharia, Islam’s legal-political framework). Meanwhile, on the other hand, he taught that the Brothers should take whatever they could get from the regime, the political system, the legal system, and the culture. He shrewdly realized that, if the Brothers did not overplay their hand, if they duped the media, the intelligentsia, and the public into seeing them as fighters for social justice, these institutions would be apt to make substantial concessions. Appeasement, he knew, is often a society’s first response to a threat it does not wish to believe is existential.”
Egypt has the largest population of any country in the Middle East – 80 million people (Iran is close, with nearly 77 million). One might think Egypt is a cosmopolitan, Westernized country. But its literacy rate is only 66.4 percent (up from 58 percent the previous year), compared with Iran’s 82.4 percent. Egypt’s GDP is only about half of Iran’s ($469.8 billion vs. Iran’s $827.1 billion). Iran also has a military budget three times that of Egypt’s ($9.59 billion).
Iran is the Middle East bully and the supporter of Hamas, a creation of the Muslim Brotherhood. However, the defense budgets of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are still greater. But no matter how wealthy they are, Egypt still controls the Suez Canal – from both sides. Still want to know why we supported Israel? The only other choice is to run the tankers around the pirate-infested Horn of Africa (Somalia) and take the long route around the tip of Africa.
All this unrest may force us right into the hands of Obama’s Greenies, who stand to make billions from the plight, since they use environmental arguments against drilling for our own oil or using natural gas or coal (which would be the only source for electrical power in the United States anyway).
It’s five minutes to midnight in America: do you know where your democracy is?