Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Morning Twitter Messages -- June 19

Serious takedown of President Morsi...
Did you know that when Morsi went to beg Russia for money and wheat, he openly declared that his position is in complete alignment with the Russian position, which is pro-Assad, just because they promised him they might think of lending him money or wheat? 
Did you know that this conference took place, not two days after the Obama administration’s announcement that they will fund and arm Syrian rebels? Did you know that this conference got held exactly two weeks before the 30 June demonstrations, at a time when the Muslim Brotherhood is desperate for any Islamist support to cling to power? Did you know that in Morsi’s 6th of October speech last year, he managed to fill the 80,000 seats of the Cairo stadium with his supporters, but in this speech he opted for the covered dome, which only holds 16,000 seats? Also, did you know that opposing the ruler in Egypt is against religion and God, but opposing the ruler in Syria is holy Jihad?
How can one not love this mess?
Had Morsi truly wanted to help Syrians, he would have issued some initiatives that would help the estimated one million Syrian refugees in Egypt so as not to suffer daily humiliation. He could have issued a directive that equalised the degrees of educated Syrian with that of Egypt’s to allow Syrian doctors and engineers a chance to work in their vocations. He could have given them all work permits, thus giving the Syrian refugees a method to exist, work and survive in Egypt legally. He could have banned the practice of selling Syrian women as wives to Egyptian males that happens in Salafi mosques. Instead, in a grandiose move, he shut down their embassy, which is the only place that provided Syrian refugees access to crucial consular services, and helped them get to their next destination if they wanted out of Egypt. Dear Syrian refugees, you can start thanking us any minute now.

Very worthwhile read here, once you wade through the Haaretz pop-up ads. 
Khaled Diab is an Egyptian-Belgian journalist, blogger and writer who has spent about half his life in the Middle East, including nearly two years in Jerusalem, and the other half in Europe.
Even if Turkish protesters manage to bring down Erdogan, they are in danger of ending up, at least in the immediate aftermath, with something worse – though in Turkey, this is more likely to be a return to military-sponsored semi-authoritarianism – if they fail to formulate and implement a far-sighted transitional vision. 
Although the risk of sliding towards authoritarianism afflicts all societies, the modern Middle East seems particularly prone to this. But what is the reason behind this?
Some Western academics and scholars argue that it is something intrinsic to Islam. While there are many problems associated with Islam, I do not think it is any more prone to absolutism than its Abrahamic cousins and other religions. 
I would say that, in much of the region, it is more a product of the legacy of Ottoman and European imperialism, the authoritarian tendencies of post-colonial leaders, both former masters and subjects, and how “modernization”, even if triggered by popular uprisings, eventually became a top-down process that did not involve the masses sufficiently.

“The prime minister, army chief and chief ministers should sit together and form a policy on drone attacks,” Imran told parliament.

“We have to make this war our war, and it cannot become our own war unless we stop drone attacks.”

According to the British Bureau of Investigative Journalism, since 2004 up to 3,587 people have been killed in Pakistan by drone attacks, and critics argue the civilian deaths they cause encourage people to join militant groups.

But the Washington views them as a vital weapon in the fight against militancy and the programme scored a notable success – in US eyes – earlier this month by killing the deputy commander of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

Imran said he was not in favour of shooting down drones, as some in his own party have urged, but called for a more concerted diplomatic effort.

Al Jazeera's Jane Feguson said the Taliban threat to continue with its attacks reflected that the armed group had been emboldened by its perceived successes on the battlefield.
"Zabihullah said it was those attacks in the first place that forced parties on the ground to the negotiation table. It shows a real confidence on the side of the Taliban when they say that," she said. 
"They see themselves in the driving seat of these peace negotiations rather than having to make any military concessions on the ground," she said.

"It seems that the Taliban are trying to push for a two-pronged approach to what they would see as a victory: The diplomatic approach in Doha as well as the military approach." 
The US military presence in Afghanistan is roughly 66,000 troops, after having reached a peak of about 100,000 forces. 
US officials cautioned that the peace process would likely be messy and has no guarantee of success. 
"It's going to be a long, hard process if indeed it advances significantly at all," a senior US official said.

I read that a couple of the  detainees at Gitmo were children when captured several years ago,  ages 14 and 16. What must it be like to become an adult as a detainee there?

Human rights groups have long protested the detention of suspected enemy fighters who haven't been charged with crimes.

The government says the detainees are too dangerous to transfer but cannot be tried, characterizing them as war prisoners under the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force Act.

Obama has recently renewed his vow to shut the prison established last decade to house suspected terrorists.

The open letter from the doctors came a day after the federal government was forced to release the names of dozens of detainees at the military prison after a newspaper sued the federal government for the information.

The list released Monday identifies 46 inmates being held for "continued detention" at the facility. The report was made public after a lawsuit by the Miami Herald. The Obama administration first acknowledged that detainees were being held indefinitely in Guantanamo in 2010 but didn't make their identities public until now.

Of the 46 detainees listed for indefinite detention, the report shows that 26 are from Yemen, 10 are from Afghanistan, three are from Saudi Arabia, two each are from Libya and Kuwait, and one each are from Kenya, Somalia and Morocco.

While tangling with the leaders of two cold war antagonists of the United States is nothing new, the two bruising encounters in such a short span underscore a hard reality for Mr. Obama as he heads deeper into a second term that may come to be dominated by foreign policy: his main counterparts on the world stage are not his friends, and they make little attempt to cloak their disagreements in diplomatic niceties.

Even his friends are not always so friendly.
On Wednesday, for example, the president is to meet in Berlin with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, who has invited him to deliver a speech at the Brandenburg Gate. But Ms. Merkel is also expected to press Mr. Obama about the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs, which offend privacy-minded Germans.

The new canal will be 22 meters deep and 286 km long - bigger than Panama and Suez in all dimensions. It will allow passage for mega-container ships, called post-Panamax, with a dead weight of up to 250,000 tons and a capacity to hold 18,000 containers, almost 4 times the capacity of the so-called Panamax ships that can go through the Panama Canal.

The new canal could almost double the nation’s per capita GDP, which was estimated at $3,300 last year, proponents say,

Yet another reason for the canal to be constructed is that the average wait for a ship to transit the Panama Canal can be 12 days.

[Very long read. I'm printing it out as I type. Twelve pages. If Laura Rozen sez it's good, that's all I need to know. It was her RT.]

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