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13. April 2012, 21.42 Uhr:

Warum wählen ägyptische Dorfbewohner die Islamisten?

von Thomas von der Osten-Sacken

Ein aufschlussreicher Artikel über das Wahlverhalten in einem ägyptischen Dorf, dessen Bewohner merheitlich islamistisch gewählt haben. Die Autorin versucht auch den überraschenden Wahlerfolg der Salafiten zu erklären:

Despite the common perception that Salafis are strict followers of Sharia compared to the Muslim Brotherhood, many of my research participants often talked about Salafis as religiously less strict than the Ikhwan. From the work of Ikwani leaders in the village, the villagers have noticed the strict hierarchy that informs the work of the Brotherhood members on the ground. In other words, the villagers understood the Brotherhood’s adherence to the dictates of the Guidance Bureau, or the Murshid, as an orthodoxy that made the Brotherhood stricter than the Salafis. They often said to me: “How come Ikhwan grassroot leaders all agree on the same things?” An incident that they often referred to is the insistence of Muslim Brotherhood members to force people to pray outside of a mosque, not build by the Brotherhood, during the Eid al-Fitr prayer last September.

Salafis, on the other hand, are seen as religiously flexible. “Aren’t we all Salafis?” many Nour supporters often repeated to me. For them, Salafis represent a religious understanding that seeks to closely follow the times of the Prophet and his followers — the Prophet was married to a Coptic woman, his neighbors were Jews, he dealt with each situation on a case-by-case basis, hence the perception that Salafis are, believe it or not, lenient. This was reflected on the ground; Salafis, at least in the village where I worked, appear to be more laid-back compared to the Ikhwan, and hence, more sensitive and open to the local context. (…)

Weiterlesen.

13. April 2012, 01.02 Uhr:

Ägypten, ein Jahr nach dem Sturz Mubaraks

von Thomas von der Osten-Sacken

Itzhak Levanon bis Ende vergangenen Jahres der israelische Botschafter in Ägypten in einem sehr lesenswerten Essay über die Lage im Land ein jahr nach dem Sturz Mubaraks, die Zukunft des Friedensabkommens und die Taktik der Muslimbrüder.

Seine Einschätzung in Stichpunkten:

During the first year of the revolution the army took over from the president, but it had always been kept away from politics by Mubarak, so when power was transferred to them, they had no experience in domestic politics and they started to make mistakes. In all my meetings with President Mubarak, together with Israeli, American, and Palestinian personalities, Field Marshal Tantawi, the minister of defense, was never present.

Few in Egypt believe that the army is sincere about the transfer of power to the civilians. Many believe that the real objective of the army is to maintain its special status, which the army has had in Egypt since the revolution of 1952. They have their own hospitals and hotels. They are deeply involved in the economy, and they have their own budget. This is an institution that is quasi-independent, and very strong.


After years of imposed political exile, the Muslim Brotherhood has entered domestic political life in Egypt by the front door. At an early stage after the revolution, we detected at least a tacit understanding between the military and the Muslim Brotherhood, to the detriment of the revolutionaries.

My assessment is that the Muslim Brotherhood will compromise with others and will seek a consensus. They understand that if there is failure, the failure will be theirs. This is why they would like to share it with others, and this basically means pluralism. This does not mean that they will not work very hard in order to reach their objective, which is to capture the public, not to change the regime. If they can spread their ideology to enough people, the change will come from them.

For at least 30 years, Mubarak’s regime intentionally reduced the volume of bilateral relations between Israel and Egypt, keeping a high-level contact channel only with the presidency and his close entourage. I believe there should have been reciprocity. Israeli ambassadors did not have free access to ministries, to parties, were banned by the media, were banned by all the unions, while in Israel the Egyptian ambassador is invited to meet with the top level, including the prime minister, and the media quotes him.

There are still security contacts at the upper levels between Israel and Egypt, and this is because there is an interest on both sides, but there are no bilateral relations. The public in Egypt is not aware enough that the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt is an Egyptian interest, no less than an Israeli one. It would be wise at this early stage to explain to the Egyptian public that the alternative to peace is a nightmare that we should all avoid.

11. April 2012, 23.48 Uhr:

Und immer wieder Siemens

von Thomas von der Osten-Sacken

2009 im Iran. Erinnert sich noch wer? Da half Siemens auch an vorderster Front mit.

Das brutale Vorgehen iranischer Bassidsch-Milizen gegen Demonstranten sorgte (…) auch in Deutschland für mediales Aufsehen. Die staatlichen Spezialeinheiten knüppelten jede spontane Versammlung nieder, um größere Menschenansammlungen zu verhindern. Geholfen hatte wohl Soft- und Hardware von Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN), einem Joint Venture der deutschen Siemens AG mit dem finnischen Nokia-Konzern.

Und nun in Syrien:

Wie das ARD-Magazin “Fakt” berichtet, hat Siemens im Jahr 2000 Netzwerk-Überwachungstechnik an das Regime in Syrien geliefert. Die syrische Mobilfunkgesellschaft Syriatel hat demnach sogenannte “Monitoring Center” erhalten. Das Unternehmen Nokia Siemens Networks bestätigte laut “Fakt” die Lieferung.

Aber auch in Bahrain:

Iran is one of many authoritarian countries across the Mideast and North Africa employing Western surveillance tools for political repression. In Bahrain, for instance, communications monitoring centers sold by Siemens AG (SIE), and maintained by Espoo, Finland-based Nokia Siemens Networks and then its divested unit, Trovicor GmbH, have been used to track and arrest activists, according to a Bloomberg News investigation.

11. April 2012, 22.37 Uhr:

Klage gegen verfassungsgebende Versammlung

von Thomas von der Osten-Sacken

Noch bevor sie mit ihrer Arbeit begonnen hat, ist die Verfassungsgebende Versammlung in Ägypten in der nächsten Krise. Weil Muslimbrüder und Salafiten versucht hatten, sie völlig zu dominieren, riefen Vertreter der so genannten liberalen und nichtreligiösen Parteien, aber auch der Kopten und selbst die Al Azhar Universität zum Boykott der Versammlung auf und bleiben den Sitzungen fern.  Nun hatte auch eine Klage Erfolg:

The Supreme Administrative Court blocked Egypt’s constituent assembly Tuesday after ruling in favour of a recent lawsuit questioning the constitutionality of the formation of the 100-member constituent assembly. The case was referred to the Commissioner’s Office at State Council, which would then have the authority to move the lawsuit to Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC).

A number of prominent lawyers filed the lawsuit against the parliament including Gad Nasser, professor of constitutional law at Cairo University, Mohamed Shehata, head of the Arab Centre for Transparency and Integrity, Sameh Ashour, the head of the Lawyers’ Syndicate and presidential hopeful Khaled Ali.

Und wenn man schon in Ägypten ist unbedingt lesenswert ist dieser Artikel über das Weltbild des Päsidentschaftskandiadten der Muslimbrüder: ‘Every aspect of life is to be Islamicized’

10. April 2012, 23.30 Uhr:

Ab nach Teheran

von Thomas von der Osten-Sacken

Nachdem sich sein Friedensplan für Syrien erwartungsgemäß als völliger Flop erwiesen hat, ist Kofi Annan jetzt erst einmal nach Teheran gereist, um dort Gespräche zu führen:

Nach Angaben der iranischen Nachrichtenagentur Irna traf Annan am Abend in Teheran zu Beratungen über die Lage in Syrien ein. Der Iran hatte zuletzt mehrfach betont, trotz der Gewalt in Syrien weiterhin an der Seite von Präsident Baschar al-Assad zu stehen.

Gespräche in Teheran. Das ist bekanntermaßen ein ideales Konzept, um Konflikte nachhaltig zu lösen.

8. April 2012, 20.12 Uhr:

Gab es gezielte Massaker an und Vertreibungen von den Christen aus Homs?

von Thomas von der Osten-Sacken

Seit die Nachrichtenagentur des Vatikan meldete, dass 90% aller christlichen Bewohner von sunnitischen Milizen aus der Hochburg des Aufstandes in Syrien, der Stadt Homs, vetrieben worden seien, heißt es vermehrt, bei der Opposition handele es sich vornehmlich um djihadistische Gotteskrieger, die, sollte Assad stürzen, in Syrien Blutbäder unter Alawiten und Christen anrichten würden.

Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi, Oskar Svadkovsky und Phillip Smyth haben die Vorwürfe untersucht und kommen zu dem Ergebnis, es handele sich dabei um gezielte Falschpropaganda des syrischen Regimes:

This claim first gained wide distribution in a report published on March 21 by Agenzia Fides (the official Vatican news agency), which declared its source to be “a note sent to Fides by some sources in the Syrian Orthodox Church.”

Fides added that “in the ‘Faruq Brigade,’ note other sources, there seems [sic] to be armed elements of various Wahhabi groups and mercenaries from Libya and Iraq.”

The claim of 90 percent ethnic cleansing can actually be traced to a report put out on March 13 by an online Arabic outlet known as Al-Haqiqa (Arabic for “the truth").

A quick Google search reveals that the original memo sent to Fides by the church leaders had been copy-pasted almost down to the last word from the SyriaTruth site, which is notorious for its pro-regime propaganda. Officials of the Syrian Church did not confirm the story with anybody in Homs before sending out the memo. They must have presumed that the SyriaTruth writers did.

As a matter of fact, Al-Haqiqa had already been taken to task by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), which specifically referred to its reporting of extensive Al-Qaida and international jihadist presence among the Syrian opposition as “bogus.”

Shortly after publishing the memo, Fides began backpedaling, in an attempt to mitigate the impact of the original report. [1] Later, it released another report quoting the “Jesuits of Homs,” who told the outlet that there were no cases to their knowledge of Christians being forced out of their homes by Islamists.

Homs happens to be around 30 kilometers from the border with Lebanon, which is home to a large and relatively powerful Christian community, making it a natural destination for Christian refugees - indeed, around 20,000 Iraqi Christians have found safety there since the 2003 invasion. Nevertheless, there has been no reported upsurge in Syrian Christian refugees to Lebanon in recent weeks. On March 8, the Christian Science Monitor reported a few thousand Syrian refugees fled to Lebanon - mostly Sunnis from the Bab Amr quarter of Homs.

Understandably, Christians have fled their homes amid fears of being caught in the crossfire. According to a report in Lebanon’s Daily Star, some Christians have been temporarily forced out of their homes by Sunni fighters, but only because they needed space to fight government forces; further, contrary to the claims of the Al-Haqiqa report, the fighters allowed the Christians to take what they needed.

Besides, the claims of straightforward ethnic cleansing by Islamist militants do not add up, because that is not how jihadist groups deal with Christians. For example, the standard practice in Iraq for jihadist groups like Al-Qaida - renowned in Iraq for its brutality - is to first demand jizya, which is a “poll-tax” imposed on Christian and Jewish minorities, in traditional Islamic theology. [2]

If the minorities fail to pay jizya, they face bomb attacks or other violence. Yet the reports in Al-Haqiqa and Fides make no reference to imposition of jizya.

There is little reason to doubt the motivation of Vatican and church leaders, who after Iraq have become extremely worried about the fate of the remaining Christian communities in the Middle East.

7. April 2012, 00.48 Uhr:

Die neue palästinensische Tragödie

von Thomas von der Osten-Sacken

Als “neue palästinensische Tragödie” bezeichnet Guy Bechor eine Entwicklung, die man seit längerem verfolgen kann: mehr und mehr geraten die Palästinenser aus dem Fokus des Interesses nicht nur der arabischen Nachbarn und der so genannten Internationalen Staatengemeinschaft, sondern sogarder israelischen Öffentlichkeit. Der Flop, der sich Marsch auf Jerusalem nannte, war nur ein weiterer Ausdruck dieser Entwicklung, die ertsmals deutlich wurde, als die groß geplante Staatsausrufung nicht nur nichts wurde, sondern auch weitgehend unkommentiert blieb. Von den arabischen Nachbarn hatten die Palästinenser, auch dies eigentlich eine altbekannte Erkenntnis, nie viel zu erwarten, außer für deren  Interessen instrumentalisiert zu werden. Daran hat der so genannte Arabische Frühling nichts geändert. Im Gegenteil:

And so, from being a major issue, and possibly the main issue, the Palestinians were pushed down to the bottom of the priority list; their Land Day did not receive any substantial coverage, neither in the Arab world nor in the Western world.

Today, when the Muslim Middle East is disintegrating into religions, ethnic groups, minorities and distinct regions, when the slaughter in Syria is merely intensifying (the number of fatalities is already nearing 10,000,) when Libya’s militias are killing each other, Yemen is crumbling and Egypt is facing deep trouble, it turns out that relatively speaking, the Palestinian issue is the most stable in the Mideast. (…)

Instead of wooing Western policy-makers, the Palestinians’ dual leadership chose to barricade itself via unilateral steps doomed for failure, such as the bid to force a new reality through the UN. As result of this, the Palestinian Authority lost much of its credibility in the West, while the embarrassing courting of Hamas, defined as a terror group, did not grant the PA much extra credit. (…)

Land Day proved that the regimes in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt, as well as Hezbollah, are unwilling to mess with Israel because of the Palestinians. On top of this come the domestic Palestinian divisions, which cannot be healed.

However, another fact emerged on Land Day: The Palestinian Authority and Hamas regimes are also uninterested in a major flare-up, for fear that this will ultimately come at their own expense and spread against unpopular leaderships. Moreover, Israel is too strong and has much experience with facing crises and protests.

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