Posted by Albert Gersh - July 08, 2013
- Fears of political deadlock, escalating violence after Brotherhood supporters try to storm army base in Egypt; dozens killed
- Dempsey declares Syria war could "persist for 10 years," Hezbollah describes fighting as "dress rehearsal" for war on Israel
- Poll: Palestinians reject U.S. peace efforts
- Analysts: Egypt crisis highlights that "Turkey has been alienated" in Middle East
What we’re watching today:
- Observers fear a political deadlock as conflicting reports emerged from Egypt this weekend about the potential appointment of opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei as interim prime minister, and as allies of ousted Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi committed to indefinite mass action to restore Morsi to the presidency. Egyptian officials indicated as late as this afternoon that consultations were continuing. Violence has been steadily escalating throughout the weekend and into Monday. More than 50 people were killed as live fire was used against a crowd of Morsi supporters after some of the crowd tried to storm the Republican Guard's Cairo headquarters, where Morsi is rumored to be under detention. Meanwhile details continue to emerge of the weeks and days leading up to the army's actions against the Muslim Brotherhood-linked president. The New York Times reported this weekend that Morsi had "quashed" army efforts to build an inclusive government that would expand representation beyond his Islamist coalition, and had brushed aside repeated U.S. calls to "compromise with the opposition and include it in government." The deadlock led to massive protests that began on June 27 and culminated in the sweeping June 30 demonstrations, which brought millions of Morsi opponents into the streets and led to the military's moves against the then-president. More than 100 people have been killed across the country since the protests began on June 27.
- The Syrian war has been polarized by battling Shiite and Sunni extremists, and the underlying sectarian issues may cause the conflict to "persist for 10 years," according to statements made over the weekend by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey. Dempsey drew particular attention to the risk that various forces fighting in what has become a regional proxy war - Hezbollah and Iran on the side of the Bashar al-Assad regime, Al Qaeda-linked forces on behalf of the opposition - may export the conflict across Syria's borders. The violence has already spilled over into every neighboring country (See: Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq, and Israel). Analysts commenting on the tactics of regime-linked forces operating on the Israeli-Syrian border are increasingly concerned that the Syrian ruler is slowly but deliberately destabilizing the area with machine-gun fire and rocket launches. Hezbollah officials interviewed recently by the Daily Beast were explicit that the Iran-backed terror organization’s efforts in Syria were “a dress rehearsal” for an eventual attack on the Jewish state.
- A majority of Palestinians believe that the Palestinian Authority "should reject" or "certainly should reject" efforts by the Obama administration to "bring Palestinians and Israelis back to the negotiating table without any preconditions," an effort that would include "an economic plan and a focus on negotiations on borders and security," according to a recent poll published by the Ramallah-based Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research. The number was roughly consistent across the West Bank (56.3%) and Gaza Strip (54.5%). Nearly half of all Palestinians also continue to support "armed attacks against Israeli civilians inside Israel" (46.8%), with the number exceeding 65% for Gazans. More than one-third of Palestinians, both in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, think that the Palestinians' "most important" national goal should be to "obtain the right of return to refuges to their 1948 towns and villages" - a euphemism for the demographic destruction of the Jewish state - and an additional 35 percent think it should be the "second most important" goal. The poll comes amid renewed concerns that Palestinian officials are engaging in religiously based incitement and neglecting to prepare Palestinian citizens for future compromises necessary to secure a two-state solution. Palestinian media last week aired footage of two Palestinian girls reciting a poem that refers to Jews as “barbaric monkeys, wretched pigs.” On Monday the Palestinian Authority’s news agency accused “Israeli fanatics” of preparing to destroy Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock in order to construct a Jewish temple. Secretary of State John Kerry is set to return to the region this week for his sixth peace process-oriented visit since March.
- Observers evaluating the regional cascade effects of the crisis in Egypt are calling attention to its role in undermining Turkish aspirations for regional influence. Turkey and its ruling Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) had long sought to provide a so-called "Turkish model" for the region, providing an example of "a modern, moderate Muslim state that works," and had duly supported Islamist movements across the Middle East. Erdogan was an early and consistent supporter of former Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi, who was ousted last week after the military responded to what have been described as the largest national protests in human history. Ankara responded to the army's actions with outrage. Agence France Presse's Ankara-based reporter Fulya Ozerkan this weekend investigated the likely impact of Morsi's removal. Ozerkan quotes veteran diplomat Ozdem Sanberk explaining that "in the Middle East... Turkey has been alienated... Turkey does not know the Middle East unlike it claims" and Carnegie Europe's Marc Pierini suggesting that there was never "a global 'Turkish model' in the eyes of the Egyptians."
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