Beyond the Cusp

August 23, 2013

Same Old Egypt but New Targets

Some are wondering why the current violence in Egypt has been restricted to mostly victimizing the Coptic Christians while there are no reports of any other religiously persecuted groups. Most obvious by their absence as victims of the current violence in Egypt are the Jews. The reasons behind this require a quick refreshing look at recent history since 1948 and the founding of Israel. Upon the founding of the Jewish State of Israel on May 14, 1948 Egypt was one of the numbers of Arab nations which declared war intending to eradicate both the nation and Jewish people of Israel. At the time of the founding of the State of Israel there were approximately 75,000 Jews residing in Egypt. After years of pogroms, bombings, riots and other violence the Jewish population had seen 40% of their population emigrate by 1950. This reduced the number of Jews left residing in Egypt to around 45,000 with most of them residing in either Alexandria or Cairo. The next major event was the 1956 Suez War where French, British and Israeli forces attacked Egypt in order to force Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser to reopen the Suez Canal to international shipping after he had nationalized the canal and began denying western shipping the use of this vital waterway. Subsequent to this conflict it was announced that the “all Jews are Zionists and enemies of the state,” and would soon be expelled. After this declaration some one-thousand Jews were arrested and imprisoned while nearly half the remaining Egyptian Jews fled Egypt for Israel, Europe and the Americas. Upon leaving these Jews were forced to sign declarations that they were leaving voluntarily and had agreed to the confiscation of their wealth, property and other assets. This left a mere 25,000 Jews living in Egypt with a large percentage of this population being elderly. The final event came after the 1967 Six Day War which began with Egypt closing the Straits of Tiran, massing troops and armor divisions on the Israeli border along with Syria massing on Israel’s northern border both nations threatening immediate annihilation of the Jewish State. Israel responded to this casus-belli with a preemptive assault defeating both enemies plus Jordan who declared war on Israel soon after hostilities began. After the Six Day War almost all the remaining Jews were forced to emigrate after having their wealth, properties and anything of value confiscated while some of the male Jews above the age of eighteen were imprisoned and tortured for three to five years and then made to leave Egypt. There is now but a tiny remnant remains numbering under one hundred all of which are aged with no younger generations of Jews so once these few die there will be no Jews remaining in Egypt.


So, when religious violence broke out after the removal of President Morsi by the Egyptian military there was not a sufficient population of Jews to target which left only the Coptic Christians and Shiite Muslims for the Sunni members of the Muslim Brotherhood to victimize. This is the main driving reason for the seeming singular persecution of the Coptic Christian population as they number anywhere from five to twelve million persons depending on which source one chooses. Even at the lowest estimate of around five million the Coptic Christians far outnumber the under one-hundred remaining aged Jews. The Coptic Christian population also far outnumbers the Shiite Muslim Population in Egypt as there are estimated to be anywhere from a few thousands to as many as eight million with the recognized number being around one million. So, now that we have discussed the numbers which reveal and make obvious the reason behind why we are hearing about violence against the Coptic population in Egypt and not about any violence against Jews or Shiite Muslims whose numbers are quite small by comparison, it honestly is all about availability of people to target. No matter the reason underlying the victimization of Coptic Christians and the destruction of their churches, monasteries, businesses, homes and other properties as well as the assaults, murders, and forced conversion and marrying young Coptic women to Muslim men, often to men far older than the woman and under threat of torturing and killing of their families in order to force compliance, human compassion and especially Christian compassion needs to spur action to protect the victims from such crimes fueled purely by hatred and religious persecution.


As horrid the pictures and news out of Egypt reporting of the violence and destruction of the Coptic population and property in Egypt may be, it pales when compared to the silence and complete lack of action by the remainder of the Christian world in response to the violence being perpetrated on their fellow Christians. What makes this passivity in the face of Christian persecution is made all the worse when one realized that the Coptic Christians are the descendants of some of the oldest Christian communities dating their origins to their being brought to Christendom by Saint Mark in the city of Alexandria in the year 42AD. This victimization of the Coptic Christians should serve as a warning for all Christendom as to their future should Israel ever be destroyed thus leaving the Christian populations as the largest and often sole non-Muslim population throughout much of the Middle East and the rest of the Arab and Muslim worlds. What is currently befalling the Coptic Christians in Egypt is the same fate that awaits the Christians within Israel and in a slightly lesser extent already befallen the Christians in the Palestinian controlled areas of Gaza and the West Bank. One need not look any further than the numbers of Christians residing in Bethlehem where in 1947 the Christians made up 85% of Bethlehem’s population which declined by 1998 to a mere 40% of Bethlehem’s population. There are differing numbers pertaining to the numbers of Christians remaining in Bethlehem today but most agree they are now less than one quarter of the population and still in decline. Researching Christian population numbers throughout the Middle East and North Africa one will realize that the Christian population has been generally in decline across the entire area and their numbers decreased at a greatly accelerated rate once the Jewish population either emigrated or was otherwise diminished to a point where the Jewish numbers were negligible. The sole nation which attests to an increasing number of Christians is Israel despite the falling numbers in the Palestinian controlled areas, whether controlled by the Palestinians Authority or Hamas. The only advice history might provide Christians at this point in history is they need to protect their fellow Christians who are under assault which currently is most obvious in Egypt where open hostilities are on display and the Coptic Christians are helpless victims. It is time for all Christians to protest the victimization of the Coptic Christians and put aside any differences their particular sect may have with the Coptic Christians as such things are of little importance when Christian lives are on the line. If the world’s Christians are unable to protect the Coptic Christians within Egypt then it is dependent upon the Christians to provide the Coptic Christians a path to escape the Egyptian violence and to provide welcoming arms to care and assist fellow Christians to pick up their lives and make a new start. What else can be said other than it is the Christian thing to do.


Beyond the Cusp


August 22, 2013

President Obama Preserving What Influence in Egypt?

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There has been a repeated story in the news over the weeks since the removal of Egyptian President Morsi by the Egyptian military headed by General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi claiming that United States President Barack Obama and his administration are treading carefully in order to preserve their influence which they may need to wield in the future. There are constant references to the Obama Administration’s wise avoidance of calling the actions by the Egyptian military a coup in order to preserve their ability to provide Egypt with much needed funds. Of course the claim is that these funds are the main influence the United States holds. There are so many problems with this story line that it is difficult to decide where to start. To be fully honest, making any reference to influence with anyone in the world that the United States still possesses outside of the Israelis is laughable; and the only reason the administration can influence the Israelis is that they actually require the American United Nations Security Council veto to hold off the complete isolation that would ensue should they not possess that saving grace or a similar promise from one of the other four members, Britain, France, Russia or China, all of which either have open animosities with Israel or are close allies of nations such as many of the Muslim and Arab states who would sponsor sanctions destructive to Israel. So, maybe we should not call what the United States has to force the Israelis to cooperate even against their better judgment so much as influence as the Obama administration wields the Sword of Damocles above Israel’s neck.


Meanwhile, back to take a quick look around the world for examples of the unbelievable level, or lack of level, of influence President Obama and, by inference, the United States possess almost anywhere across the world. We have all either heard, read, witnessed or some combination the complete lack of regard and respect dished out on both President Obama and his Secretary of State John Kerry by Russian President Putin. When the sole praise the in-the-bag media were able to laud President Obama over regarding Russian President Putin was President Obama cancelling a meeting with Putin before an economic conference that was to be held in Russia recently. Unfortunately the press did not deem it worthy to cover President Putin’s reaction and we missed that as it likely would have been quite amusing. The last time a Russian in high position bothered to even listen to what President Obama had to say was before Putin returned to his office as President and Medvedev held the Presidency as a placeholder and puppet of Vladimir Putin. There may have been a reason that even Medvedev agreed to hear what President Obama wished to communicate as this was the meeting we all heard what was said by President Obama due to an unrealized open microphone which revealed his statements, “On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this, this can be solved but it’s important for him to give me space.” Medvedev promised to inform Putin of Obama’s need after which President Obama continued, “This is my last election. After my election, I have more flexibility.” Medvedev affirmed he understood and would carry the message to Vladimir for Obama. Perhaps the subservience announced in this exchange is partially responsible for Russian President Putin’s disregard and disrespect for the American President.


In a completely different arena the newly anointed new dear leader of North Korea President Kim Jong-un, some have referred to the twenty-eight-year-old ruler and a child due to his extremely youthful appearance, was exercising his boasts as is the usual first act of new leaders in North Korea. They make claims, launch missiles, reopen formerly closed nuclear research and development sites and threaten to launch a massive attack on South Korea and the United States. This is nothing new and their ignoring any pressures from the President of the United States for one or, at most, two missile launches and then they historically have backed off of their nuclear development threats and return to being mostly a non-issue soon after. This usually follows an intervention by China often at the request of the United States President among others. As per usual, the new leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un, started making test missile launches, reopened closed nuclear labs, threatened South Korea and the United States, moved troops, missiles and artillery units towards the south and other saber rattling. Kim Jong-un ignored everything President Obama demanded which is to be expected and does not reflect on Obama’s ability to influence events. But when President Obama made requests for the Chinese leaders to restrain the North Korean leader the Chinese simply refused to do anything of the sort. President Obama and a number of his Administration all repeatedly requested the Chinese intervene but to no avail. That was another indication of lack of influence.


More examples could be given from Europe, Asia, South America, but let us return instead to Egypt. President Obama’s being pretty much ignored by the Egyptian military leadership is not entirely due to his lack of gravitas, much of it has to do with the fact that the Egyptian military is actually acting at the insistence of the majority of the Egyptian population and fulfilling their role as protectors of the people. Another reason they are ignoring the entreats and demands from President Obama is that they honestly do not care what he has to say nor do they care much what anybody wants as they are working to salvage their country from being transformed into a Sharia observant Islamist State and retain their secular liberties or at least some hope of realizing such liberties. President Obama and his administration have silently exerted every ounce of influence they have short of a public denouncing the Egyptian military for having executed a military coup. The reason that President Obama is avoiding such a label is by declaring Egypt to be under the rule resulting from a military coup the United States would be forced by act of law to cut all financial aid to Egypt permanently. President Obama has silently scaled back aid to Egypt to a point where virtually if not all military aid to Egypt has been suspended. The administration confirms this while asserting that this is possibly just a temporary measure which could be reversed in the near future. The difficulty for President Obama and his administration is cutting off aid to the Egyptian military is having absolutely no effect as the Royals of Saudi Arabia have already made up the difference and promised to provide the Egyptian military with much if not all the aid they may require in their efforts to provide Egypt with a political scene free of the influences from the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists. The Saudis are in total support of Egypt remaining a mostly secular nation and out of the clutches or influence of Islamists which may position Egypt with those who oppose Saudi Arabia’s loose alliance of Arab states. The Saudi Arabian Royal family took this move as a direct response negating the attempt by President Obama to exercise financial pressure and influence on the Egyptian military leadership. The Saudi Arabian leadership has taken a number of steps recently that have as their source their suspicions that President Obama is not really their friend, is not about to do anything to prevent Iran from attaining nuclear weapons, and to simply show President Obama that they are going to do whatever it takes even if they have to run over President Obama and all of his efforts and designs in the Middle East. The Saudi Royals not only have no respect for President Obama, they have taken up opposition to President Obama and will work to frustrate all of his designs starting with Egypt. This is something that is actually a positive outcome even for what most Americans who have a traditional American outlook on the Middle East which existed before President Obama. The coming showdown over who should rule in Egypt, a military backed government until elections free from Islamist influences or parties can be held and a secular constitution approved or a Muslim Brotherhood government which will institute a Sharia Islamist government and constitution. President Obama very likely has been locked out of having any influence on the outcome in Egypt as Saudi Arabia has preempted President Obama’s singular weapon, cash. The only result should President Obama continue on his insistence for the return to Muslim Brotherhood rule in Egypt will be the loss of every Sunni friend to the United States in the Middle East turning to another source for their military weapons and that will be the termination of any American influence in the Middle East beyond threatening Israel.  


Beyond the Cusp


August 17, 2013

Muslim Brotherhoods Day of Rage in Egypt

Just as most of those who study Egypt had predicted, the Muslim Brotherhood fired their initial shot across the bow of the interim government which the Egyptian Military put in place and has pledged to protect. There will be scratch the surface coverage in most media outlets where they may show some pictures and videos of a few of the confrontations which took place either in Cairo or Alexandria. Those who might choose to go somewhat further might include a comment or two and even a picture of one of the confrontations between the Coptic Christians and Muslim Brotherhood supporters. What will receive scant coverage is that by the time Monday morning news hits the airwaves and your ears as you have that first cup of coffee to get going there may be only a few Coptic or other Christian structures remaining standing. The tragedy that the Copts are about to face is probably the most criminal of all the violence which will spill across Egypt as the revolution to place Muslim Brotherhood backed Peace and Justice Party President Morsi back into the seat of power and forcing the resumption of the Islamization of Egyptian society will be hurled hard and wide against the oldest of Egyptian societies, the Coptic Christians as well as any other non-Sunni Muslim populations.


The Coptic Christians are about to face the same form of persecution and violence as was faced by Egyptian Jews under Egyptian persecution starting in 1948 and continuing for the next several years. The Jewish population in Egypt in the decade after Israel was founded in 1948 dropped from over seventy-five-thousand to less than one-hundred mostly very elderly Jews today with no younger generation coming to replace them. It can reasonably be expected that Egypt will be completely free of any Jewish population within the next couple of decades. This allows the Islamists of the Muslim Brotherhood along with the cooperation of the Salafists to now cleans Egypt of their next target, the Christians otherwise called the Sunday People from an old Arab battle cry which goes, “First the Saturday People, then the Sunday People.” Going back to 2011 it has been reported that close to one-hundred-thousand Coptic Christians fled Egypt in that year and has been estimated to have exceeded a quarter of a million per year since and will likely explode well past that in the coming months. One has to remember that the Coptic Christians make up one of the oldest and most purely original Egyptian populations surviving that predated the Islamic conquest of Egypt. These Christians were converted by John Mark, (author of the Gospel of Mark), who became their first bishop sometime between the year 42 AD and 62 AD, making them one of the earliest Christian communities which continues to exist very much as they were in antiquity. Now these early and faithful Christians are facing obliterations and the destruction of their churches, cathedrals and other historic places without anybody lifting a finger to protect them or their historic places and legacy.


This is just another tragedy which is unfolding within Egypt as the nation devolves into civil war. Meanwhile, the Coptic Christian communities are burning starting with their churches and proceeding to their places of business and finally to their homes. Their communities face obliteration by conflagration, a cleansing of their neighborhoods by fire executed by the Muslim Brotherhood and their Sunni followers yet their cries and tears will pass uncommented and blanketed by a silence that drowns their screams. What will happen to young Coptic women is unspeakable in its horrors and the rest of the Coptic population will face persecutions only slightly less horrific and face it alone in the world, friendless. This coming atrocity is what President Obama should have spoken against and made clear that the Coptic Christians are to be protected if Egypt intends to retain any of their billions of dollars of annual aid monies from the United States. Don’t hold your breath waiting for the President to do the honorable thing, it’s the weekend and the golf course is calling. One might ask where are the cries over this injustice which is being perpetrated in plain sight of the world. Yet the world remains silent. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon is in Israel and the Palestinian territories (Palestine as Ban Ki-Moon referred to them) pressuring Prime Minister Netanyahu to make the necessary sacrifices while assuring Chairman Abbas whom he praises with showers of promises and support. Where is the Pope who should be screaming out over the injustice to the Coptic Christians whose society that predated that of the Vatican City now are laid waste in a sea of flames and blood. Where is any leader in the Christian world even murmuring the slightest complaint, let alone coming to these persecuted people’s aid providing them protection or at the very least a place to which to flee? Why is the United States Sixth Fleet not mounting a rescue operation to take these victims of frenzied mobs to a place of safety? Where is the Christian world when their brothers and sisters are being slaughtered and martyred for their faith? Sleep well oh western world while atrocity once again swallows up an ancient and peaceable people, sleep well.


Beyond the Cusp


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