""Some Arab spring revolutions brought benefits but others were planned to destroy and divide countries," he said in an interview on Al-Hayat TV channel on Sunday. The West invented "corrupted" theories in order to steal the wealth of the East, El-Tayib added. "The East has not met the level of West, the gap is widening between them," he said, adding that there was a conspiracy to keep the East weak. "The West presented the clash of civilizations theory in order to provoke a clash with Islamic civilization." "There are non-Western nations with old civilizations that are capable of leading the world in a more reasonable way than the West," El-Tayib said. Western civilization is in a state of extreme moral, spiritual and religious poverty, he asserted." Ahram on Line
I should be grateful for people like this in the Islamic World. They have always made my job easier by being so predictable.
This man is the Sheikh or Rector of the Al-Azhar mosque and university in Cairo. He is arguably the most revered and followed Sunni alim or scholar among the Sunnis. His only rival would be his opposite number at Tunis. He argues that the West inspired the Arab Spring for the purpose of weakening and dividing the believers so that they would be weak and available to the West for exploitation.
This would be news to the masses that crowded Maidan al-Tahrir in Cairo and so many other squares across the region. At the same time there is a modicum of truth in his argument since the NED/R2P types in both the Bush and Obama Administrations spread money and favor across these countries in a vainglorious quest for democratization and Europeanization. That had a certain effect as it did in Syria and Ukraine.
What al-Tayyib does not want to contemplate is that the 'ulema (scholars) of the Sunnis have generally held Sunni Islam in an iron grip of thought control since the reign of al-mutawakkil,the Abbasid caliph who accepted the consensus of pietists among the 'ulema as the basis of the holy law (sharia). In Sunni Islam sharia' is the basis of all life. In some countries that experienced European colonialism there are also commercail law codes but these are in retreat before the rising tide of sharia' law.
The most depressing thing about this is that Al-Tayyib is firmly fixed in a society that is dominated by a variant of Sunni Islam that still accepts such things as female circumcision and Sisi's proud assertion that he will utterly destroy the MB, al-Tayyib's rivals (and Sisi's).
Perhaps the Egyptian monarchy was not such a bad thing. There was a functioning parliament then. Imams were kept "in line." There were real political parties and such odd things as constitutional rights.
I am reading Umberto Eco’s book The Prague Cemetery. The characters are apparently not imaginary and they all seem to have said what Eco says they said in the book. The background of the book is a feverish conspiracy swamp that includes the Jesuits, Jews, Masons, Republicans, Illuminati etc, etc.
It reminds me of what I read about the environment in the Arab world today.
I don’t know what if any connection can be made, but the correspondence is interesting.
The infamous Belgrade CANVAS NGO tactical protest manual, in Arabic:
an early back-translation into English, by The Atlantic:
Dr. Ashraf Ezzat blog commentary from Alexandria, Egypt:
Commentary by Stephen Zunes, counter-commentary by James Tracy (comments):
The updated CANVAS manual, their own website:
Straightforward street tactics by a professional Egyptian protester:
humor: “NWO: How To Cook Up A Fake ‘People’s Uprising’!”
Col. Lang, thanks for this. I will add this link in support, I hope, of your expertise in this area and the religion many of us in the west struggle to understand: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2014/05/islam-saudi-apostasy-201458142128717473.html
As you have stressed repeatedly, Islam is not a religion with a figure like the Pope or Patriarch, nor are the regions or countries in which it is practiced by devout believers. Your thoughts on the analysis in this link would be most welcome to me.
forgot: Link between Stratfor and CANVAS:
“Are activists being used as spies?”
“Exposed: Globally Renowned Activist Collaborated With Intelligence Firm Stratfor”, was actually able to get his wife a job there, why not. Interesting:
Pat, I think it’s pretty widely accepted that Al-Azhar is pro-government mosque, a mouthpiece for the Egyptian regime. What this imam is saying, then, is exactly the sort of narrative that Sissi would want to promote. But as you yourself noted, there is still probably a bit of truth in what he’s saying, despite who’s saying it. While I doubt any western ruler was eager to see Ben Ali in Tunisia or Mubarak in Egypt overthrown, it’s pretty obvious that the west was after Khaddafi and Assad, and used (or tried to use, in the latter case) the ‘Arab Spring’ as a pretext for these operations. Doesn’t look like we got much out of it, though.
Well, this western educated scholar is expressing his personal and well thought out views on the correct interpretation of sharia. If he works at it he may become the center of circle of ijma’. although probably a smaller one than the sheikh of al-azhar. pl
Stratfor is a commercial intelligence service. Are they not expected to collect information to support their analytic efforts? “Ignorant and racist views?” How amusing. pl
You are located in Cologne. German or Irish? It seems to be a German habit to re-state someone’s exact views to the originator and then imply that the originator did not understand his own words. Do they teach that at the Gymnasium? I made it quite clear that Sisi and the sheikh are aligned. Muftis, religious sheikhs and the like are allies of the governments throughout the Arab world. As for your anti-American fantasy that the Obama Administration and their menagerie of neo-Wilsonians, R2Pers and neocons were unhappy to see these rulars fall, you are quite wrong. they were happy to see them go and then grossly disappointed to find that that they could not control the post-revolution regimes. If you think that hte US government has any control over Sisi you really don’t understand the situation. pl
Although your experience and knowledge of such matters is infinitely greater than mine, may I suggest a slightly different interpretation? It appears to me that the US gov., being such a large institution, often works at cross-purposes. For example, for years parts of the US gov. provided Egyptian activists with NED-type training and expertise, while others simultaneously provided Mubarak with crowd control training and equipment. While the Obama administration seemed completely taken by surprise by the Tunisian uprising, by the time it reached Egypt it had woken up and looked like it was actively trying to support Mubarak or, later, trying to find a “transition” solution that left much unchanged. Of course it is possible that the public diplomacy was just for show, but it certainly differed from place to place: Libya, Syria (immediate and vociferous condemmation of the govs.), Bahrain, Saudi (radio silence or statements supportive of the govs.).
I therefore wonder whether “the Obama administration” as a whole was, as you say, happy to see the ruler of Egypt fall – as opposed to the “menagerie of neo-Wilsonians, R2Pers and neocons” inside and outside the administration. While it is probably true that the US gov. now exercises little control over Sissi, I would argue that it is not too unhappy with the new situation, at least judging by the relative silence of administration officials and the US media regarding for instance its human rights abuses, compared to the loud statements and media campaigns directed against Mursi’s rule.
But maybe this distinction between “all” or “parts of” the Obama administration is just hair splitting. Still, I would welcome your views on the coordination, or lack thereof, between various departments in the US gov. or even within departments. (I recall hearing rumours of an all-out war in Iraq between the CIA and the Pentagon in the early years of the invasion).
“You are located in Cologne. German or Irish?”
I do indeed live in Cologne. I’m American, of Irish extraction.
“I made it quite clear that Sisi and the sheikh are aligned.”
I never doubted that you knew that (sorry if I implied) and I’m sure most of your regular readers probably would, too. But I didn’t see it expressly stated in your posting above, so I thought I would make it explicit. It might be helpful for the newer readers to know that Al-Azhar is not considered radical or anti-government at all.
“As for your anti-American fantasy that the Obama Administration and their menagerie of neo-Wilsonians, R2Pers and neocons were unhappy to see these rulars fall, you are quite wrong.”
As far as Mubarak was concerned, I’m not too sure they were so eager to see him go. As a life-long intelligence professional, you no doubt have some inside sources I don’t. But from the outside at least, it didn’t seem to me like Washington was overjoyed at the prospect of losing him back in 2011-12. (Maybe CNN was excited, but that’s another matter.) As I recall, Obama didn’t publicly call for Mubarak to step down until the 11th hour–after Mubarak’s absurd camel-and-scimitar offensive had already failed. By then it was obvious that he was finished anyway.
I contrast their behavior there with their statements regarding the Syrian situation, where they lost no time in labeling Assad a “dead man walking” and staunchly insisting from the start that he had to go.
“If you think that hte US government has any control over Sisi you really don’t understand the situation.”
It seems clear to me, too, that Washington has little power over Sissi–much less than they had with Mubarak, at any rate. Still, they may regard Sissi as less risky and unreliable than Morsi. Whatever the case, they never publicly made a big stink about the coup against Morsi.
Imagine – Could you summarize what you’re trying to say by posting these links?
James Patrick and Karim
I will accept the explicit claim (JP) and the implicit claim (Karim) that you are variously American Irish and Turk/Kurd whatever resident in Germany. In any event you seem to have drunk deeply of the general tenor of German teaching with regard to the infamy of the United States. 1- I have no access to information possessed or opined by the US IC with regard to anything. I have clearances bu no routine access and I prefer it that way. If I did have such access I would not be able to run SST. The only time I have access is when the USG wants me to do something like “role play” in a national level political/military Kriegspiel or to testify in federal court. What I do have is a thorough and ongoing knowledge of how the US Government actually works and how the process of policy formulation takes place in both general function and specific application. 2- Contrary to what you have been taught or choose to believe the USG is not in any way monolithic in belief or execution. 3- The best way to think of the USG at both the federal and state levels is as an arena filled with rivals who are forced by circumstance and law to disguise the degree and extent of their disagreements. 4- The president of the United States is a person of limited power and transient presence. The permanent structures of the USG are huge and the permanent inhabitants all know that if they are patient and clever they can frustrate and outlast the occupant of the WH, whomever he/she might be. 5- For that reason the different parts of the government are often at cross purposes. In the case of Egypt, the US was tied to the Mubarak era government by US law governing security assistance in commitments that covered a wide variety of equipment and training. DoD and the IC argued strenuously for the strategic relevance of these legal obligations even while the neo-Wilsonian people at State and the NSC staff argued that pure democracy should be our sole concern. this kind of thing results in the kind of policy dissonance that you interpret as self centered hypocrisy. The Obama Administration (WH and State) tried mightily to love the Mursi/MB government but as it became clear that Mursi’s view ws that the constitution should be shaped to install Islamic democracy (one man, one vote, one time) the voices of DoD and the IC more and more were heard and in the end the Sissi coup was simply accepted if not celebrated. i have no hope that any of this will convince you. you will believe what you wish. pl
This piece up today might be of some interest to those who read and comment: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/05/saudi-sharia-justice-1000-lashes-liberal-activist-bloggers.html?utm_source=Al-Monitor+Newsletter+%5BEnglish%5D&utm_campaign=b09d4887f7-January_9_20141_8_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_28264b27a0-b09d4887f7-102321145#
This is the first sentence: “Saudi justice is eager to appear equitable in dealing with both Islamist and liberal dissent. On May 6, a Saudi court sentenced liberal blogger Raif Badawi to 10 years in prison, 1,000 lashes and a fine of $267,000 for apostasy. Badawi has never declared himself an atheist.”
Thanks for the reply. That was more or less my point, but I was hoping you would flesh it out for me, which you did. As I said, I was splitting hairs in saying that only parts of the administration wanted the removal of Mubarak where you had written “the administration”. But then I resorted to the same short cut when I wrote that “the administration” was not unhappy with Sissi.
PL, thanks so much for your highly educational explanations! I know there are multiple factions in the gov’t but have had a hard time understanding out how the various competing inter-agency and intra-agency egos, agendas and goals play out in real life. Parts of this post and comment thread and a few other recent ones have triggered many “ahas” of realization in my mind regarding the various power dynamics at play and their consequences in real life.
Thanks also for being a straight shooter and NOT being politically correct. Your unique style of candor is much appreciated 🙂