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 Forecasting America's Destiny ... and the World's


Generational Dynamics Web Log for 31-Jan-2011
31-Jan-11 News -- Rift grows between Palestinian Authority and Al-Jazeera

Web Log - January, 2011

31-Jan-11 News -- Rift grows between Palestinian Authority and Al-Jazeera

Millions riot in Egypt as the West fears a Muslim Brotherhood victory

Rift grows between Palestinian Authority and Al-Jazeera

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is quoted by the Jerusalem Post as accusing al-Jazeers of trying to topple the Palestinian Authority government:

"They [Al-Jazeera] thought that Palestine was like Tunisia. They tried to spread lies because they thought that what happened in Tunisia could happen in Palestine. Al-Jazeera thought that they could finish us off, but the Palestinian people have responded to their lies and distortions."

I watched quite a bit of the al-Jazeera coverage of the Palestine Papers, and I reported on it in detail in several reports last week.

But I was really shocked by the lack of professionalism of al-Jazeera.

I'm not referring to the release of the previously secret papers. Any news organization would have done that, given the opportunity.

I'm referring to their own news coverage of the release. As I indicated in my reports, there was not a single positive word about the Palestinian Authority, and not a single negative word about Hamas.

I've complained about the bias of the New York Times over the years, and their strong anti-Americanism, sometimes siding with the terrorists during the Iraq war. But even the NY Times has token conservatives on its writing staff.

But al-Jazeera didn't even bother with a fig leaf. The people at al-Jazeera hate the Palestinian Authority, and they love Hamas, and of the many commentators I heard, not a single one expressed a different point of view.

Al-Jazeera has essentially become an arm of Hamas.

Millions riot in Egypt as the West fears a Muslim Brotherhood victory

(This is my BigPeace article on the subject. It includes some material from my reports from the last few days.)

Some of the Western press is treating the riots in Egypt as a blessed event. "A new Egypt is likely to emerge from Revolution that seeks not Islam but Freedom," gleefully proclaims the New York Sun. At the other extreme, Der Spiegel, says that the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt could take power and start supplying arms to Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Egyptians defying the curfew in Tahrir Square, Cairo
Egyptians defying the curfew in Tahrir Square, Cairo

Many news stories deal endlessly with what the Obama administration should do. Needless to say, what the Obama administration does will have no predictable effect whatsoever on what happens in Egypt.

Generational Dynamics predicts that the Mideast region is headed for a major war, refighting the genocidal 1948 war between Arabs and Jews that followed the partitioning of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel.

Thus, my job in this article is to analyze, as accurately as possible, whether this particular event, the chaos in Egypt, is the event that's likely to trigger this war at this time.

I often characterize Gaza's population as a bunch of kids running around with guns and missiles. That's because the average age is 17, according to the CIA Fact Book, meaning that the majority of the population are from an earlier generation than the Hamas leadership.

Thus, it's not surprising that the latest poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) finds that these kids really have little faith in either the Palestinian Authority or Hamas, and don't believe that either of them is telling the truth. These kids are like America's young Millennial generation (Gen-Y), who are sick and tired of the bitter, vitriolic fighting between Boomers and Gen-Xers, and don't particularly trust either of them.

The same kind of dynamic holds in Egypt. The median age is a little older than Gaza -- 24 -- but then again, the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood are older as well. And the young people in Egypt feel little connection with either the Mubarak government, or the main opposition, the Muslim Brotherhood.

For the West, the major event of the 20th century was World War II. News stories constantly talk about the "post World War II era," as if the world had been created in 1945.

But for most of the Mideast Muslim world, WW II was just another war. There were two other wars that were far more important.

The first was the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and Istanbul Caliphate in 1922, leaving Turkey as a secular state. The effect on the Muslim world can be compared to the effect on the Catholic world if the Vatican were suddenly to become a secular organization, and the Pope decided to get married. Where there used to be an empire that tied all Muslims together, after the Ottoman Empire collapsed, the Muslim world was nothing more than a collection of unconnected islands.

The Muslim Brotherhood, founded in 1928, filled that void. The Brotherhood grew rapidly and had millions of members. Once again, there was a world Muslim community. The political goal was to expel the British from the Mideast.

Is the Muslim Brotherhood violent? They will tell you that outside of a couple of particular events, especially their involvement in the war between Jews and Arabs following the creation of the state of Israel, that they are not violent. They will tell you that they completely renounced violence in the 1980s. Others disagree, and many in the West consider the Muslim Brotherhood to be a terrorist organization.

The Muslim Brotherhood has been banned in Egypt, but with a huge membership, they are tolerated by the Mubarak government, as long as there is no violence. About 20% of the population belongs to the Brotherhood, and they field candidates in elections as "independents."

The second important 20th century war in the Muslim world was Iran's 1979 Great Islamic Revolution, followed by the Iran/Iraq war of the 1980s. This war electrified the entire Muslim world because it showed that it's possible once again to have an Islamic state to replace the Ottoman Empire in leading the Muslim world. But the Iran/Iraq war showed something else: that Shia Muslim Iran could never be the leader of the Sunni Muslim world.

Just as the Muslim Brotherhood came out of the wreckage of the Ottoman collapse, al-Qaeda came out of the wreckage of the Iran/Iraq war. Osama bin Ladin rejected the non-violent doctrines of the Muslim Brotherhood. His political objective was to expel the British, the Americans, and the Israelis from the Mideast. Any means possible could be used, but the first step would be to trigger a revolution in some Sunni Muslim country, to replicate the success of Iran's Great Islamic Revolution.

It's worth noting that al-Qaeda has eclipsed the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group. Al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood both have linked organizations in many Muslim countries, but the Brotherhood is mostly viewed as a political organization, while al-Qaeda is the brand name of choice for anyone who wants to blow something up.

In the Palestinian territories, there are three clearly identifiable generations, as I first described in 2006:

There's a smaller "youth bulge" in Egypt, but they too have little faith in either the Mubarak administration or in the Muslim Brotherhood. This has become clear from this past weeks riots, where the demonstrators are demanding change, the resignation of Mubarak, cheaper food and more jobs. But they have not so far named any political group to replace the Mubarak administration. In particular, they have not adopted the Muslim Brotherhood as their cause.

In fact, there are other political parties in Egypt. If Mubarak is forced to flee, as the protesters demand, then the Muslim Brotherhood will be an important political force, but not the only one.

Furthermore, the Egyptian army plays an important role. Every Egyptian male is required by law to serve in the army. This means that all the youthful demonstrators are quite comfortable with the army, and it also means that the army itself reflects the attitudes of the young demonstrators. Thus, there have been several news stories of demonstrators and soldiers talking and sharing food and water.

Such violence as has occurred in Cairo has apparently been at the hands Mubarak's security forces, who are apparently just as unpopular with the army as they are with the protesters.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, we make certain assumptions. Generally speaking, we assume that major policies in every country, including dictatorships, are made by great masses of people, entire generations of people.

Thus, we have to assume that 30 years of policies under the Mubarak administration must have had some kind of general approval from most of the general population.

I'm particularly thinking of the peace treaty with Israel, and the wall that separates Gaza from Egypt. The wall is portrayed in the mainstream press as a means of oppressing the Gaza people, and that may well be the case.

But I believe that if young Egyptians were opposed to the terms of the peace treaty with Israel, then it would have been repudiated by now, or at least they would be demanding that it be repudiated. And if they didn't want that wall there, then it would already have been torn down, or at least the rioters would already have demanded that it be torn down.

So I'm going to assume that the general population, including the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, believe that it's in Egypt's best interest to maintain existing policies with Israel.

And indeed, events on the ground confirm this. Protesters are demanding only one thing: the resignation of Mubarak. They're demanding "change," specifically regime change.

Thus, even if the Mubarak regime collapses, it seems very unlikely that the worst fears of the Israelis and the Americans, and the greatest hopes of Hamas, will be realized. Based on what I've seen so far, the young protesters and the army, the two major forces in Egypt today, do not feel that repudiating existing policies with Israel is in the best interests of the Egyptians themselves.

The army in particular will oppose any move that jeopardizes the annual $2 billion US aid that goes to Egypt, mostly to the military.

Thus, I don't see any particular danger from the political ascendency of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. An example of something that COULD spiral out of control would be a conflict along the fault line of Muslims versus Coptic Christians, who make up 10% of the population. I'm not saying that this is likely, or that there's any evidence whatsoever that it can happen, but I provide it as an example of the only kind of thing that might explode.

Still, the Generational Dynamics prediction is that the region is headed for a new war between Jews and Arabs, with absolutely certainty, and if the current situation in Egypt won't bring it about, then something else will.

In my opinion, the biggest threat to stability in the region today, and indeed in the world, is not riots in Egypt but surging food prices that are already at historic highs, and are expected to go even higher. High food prices were the trigger for riots in Tunisia and Egypt, and they're causing causing food riots in other countries.

High food prices could trigger in some country a popular revolt that morphs into a civil war. This does not appear to be a possibility in Egypt, but it could happen in other Arab countries, or in Pakistan, Bangladesh, or other countries.

As usual, this analysis of Egypt was based on clearly stated assumptions and can only be improved with additional information. If you're familiar with the situation in Egypt, and particularly if you've lived in Egypt, then I would welcome your comments, directed to me on my web site, in private comments or in the public forum.

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 31-Jan-11 News -- Rift grows between Palestinian Authority and Al-Jazeera thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (31-Jan-2011) Permanent Link
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