Friday, July 26, 2013

Evening Update: Russia, Egypt And The Revived Roman Empire

It is both interesting and prophetic that the items above are interconnected and we can see more and more evidence of this in recent news stories. In the first story, it looks like Egypt could be the stage for yet another 'proxy war' between the U.S. and Russia:

Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators filled Cairo’s streets and squares Friday, July 26 in rival rallies shortly after deposed president Mohamed Morsi was formally charged and detained for 15 days. Tahrir Square was packed with crowds responding to Defense Minister Gen. Abdel Fattah El-Sisi’s call for a mandate to support the military fight on “terrorists.” Another huge crowd of Morsi supporters packed the streets around the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque in Nasser City.

Instead of directing their ire at the overthrown Muslim Brotherhood, the pro-military demonstrators shouted “Bye Bye America!” as huge placards waved over their heads depicting as a threesome Gen. El-Sisi, Vladimir Putin and Gemal Abdel Nasser, who ruled Egypt in the 60s in close alliance with the Soviet Union.

Their rivals in a separate part of Cairo chanted "Sisi out! Morsi is president! Down with the army!"
In Alexandria, five people were killed in clashes between Muslim Brotherhood supporters and opponents.

The anti-American banners represented a message: No matter if President Barack Obama denies the Egyptian people US support because of the military’s steps against the Muslim Brotherhood, Cairo has an option in Moscow.

Reports began appearing Friday morning on the social networks including Facebook from sources close to Putin that Moscow is considering supplying Egypt with advanced fighter bombers to replace the F-16 planes, whose delivery Obama suspended Wednesday, July 24. This was a gesture to show the US President’s displeasure over Gen El-Sisi’s rejection of the demand to release the ousted president and integrate the Muslim Brotherhood in the interim government.

 Many Egyptians are beginning to turn to Moscow in search of their country’s primary world ally rather than Washington. They have taken note that Putin has shown himself to be the foe of the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria as well as Egypt.

The gap between the EU and Israel is widening by the day: 

A spokeswoman for European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said that Brussels was looking into media reports that Israel was reducing cooperation with EU diplomats seeking to advance projects for the benefit of Palestinians in the West Bank.
Israel has blocked the European Union from aiding tens of thousands of Palestinians in the West Bank, in retaliation for an EU ban on financial assistance to Israeli organizations in the territories.
The EU imposed its restrictions last week, citing its frustration over the continued expansion of Jewish settlements in territory captured by Israeli forces in the 1967 Middle East War. The new guidelines render Israeli entities operating there ineligible for EU grants, prizes or loans, beginning next year.

An Israeli official said on Friday the Jewish state was compelled to respond to the EU's decision "to sanction or boycott the settlements".
"From our standpoint we cannot just ignore this or treat spitting in our face as though it is rain," the official said.
The Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon had decided to suspend contacts with the EU in the West Bank.

In Brussels, Maja Kocijancic, spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, said: "The EU is concerned by reports in the Israeli media that the Israeli Minister of Defense has announced a number of restrictions affecting EU activities supporting the Palestinian people."
"We have not received any official communication from the Israeli authorities. Our delegations on the spot are seeking urgent clarifications," Kocijancic added.

Spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, responded Friday to Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon's decision to suspend contacts with the EU in the West Bank, saying "The EU is concerned by reports in the Israeli media that the Israeli Minister of Defense has announced a number of restrictions affecting EU activities supporting the Palestinian people."

On Thursday, Ya'alon instructed the IDF and the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories to stop cooperating with EU representatives in the West Bank and Gaza. The defense minister's decision came in response to the European Union's decision to ban contracts with Israel pertaining to disputed territories.

According to a defense establishment source, the Israeli decision was taken in a bid to send a clear message to the EU, stressing that any move to boycott Israeli actions beyond the green-line "turns the organization into a biased mediator in negotiations, and as such it must face the consequences."

Russia and Cyprus have close ties both economically and politically. In a recent interview by the Russian news agency ITAR-TASS, Cypriot Parliament Speaker Yiannakis Omirou expressed his gratitude to the Russian government for its solidarity with Cyprus over the past five decades, particularly “the support that Russia has been giving within the framework of the UN Security Council in the light of threats on the part of Turkey.”

Meanwhile, Cyprus has stood by Russia even on sensitive issues — for example, during the recent annual vote on the UN Resolution regarding the status of refugees and internally displaced people from Georgia’s Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region. 

Since returning to the presidency, Russian President Vladimir Putin has stressed the importance of a strong military, including Russia seeking a greater presence in the Mediterranean. Russia has been strengthening its presence, establishing a floating Mediterranean naval flotilla — consisting of some 16 warships — for the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union. In June Putin stated, “This is a strategically important region, and we have tasks to carry out there to provide for the national security of the Russian Federation.” It is speculated this deployment is partially meant to deter any NATO move towards Syria.

With the future of Russia’s Tartus naval base on Syria’s Mediterranean coastline looking uncertain (Moscow recently evacuated all personnel), Russia is looking for other opportunities to maintain and strengthen its foothold in the Middle East. Therefore, increased speculation over a possible military presence on Cyprus is not surprising.

What is being discussed is an agreement that would allow Russia to use Limassol port for its navy (comparable to the agreement that Germany has that allows Berlin to dock warships and carry out land exercises) and Andreas Papandreou Air Base at Paphos for its military aircraft (presently only France has such permission). Foreign and defense ministers have met to discuss details.

While a deal may still create some concern in the West, it seems set to go through; the precise details of the agreement will be crucial because as the saying goes the “devil is in the detail.” It will need to be extremely tight and clear concerning what Russia can or cannot do. Cyprus definitely will not want to find itself in a position where Russia has used it to launch any type of threatening military activity.

Last but not least, is another very interesting commentary from Caroline Glick. It's long but worth the read; below are just a few quotes to summarize:

THIS WEEK the EU took three steps that together prove Europe's ill-intentions toward the Jewish state.

First, last Friday the EU announced it is imposing economic sanctions on Israel. The sanctions deny EU funds to Israeli entities with an address beyond the 1949 Armistice Lines. They also deny EU funds to Israeli entities countrywide that carry out activities beyond the 1949 Armistice Lines.

The areas beyond the 1949 Armistice Lines delineated by the EU directive include the Gaza Strip, which Israel abandoned eight years ago; the Golan Heights, which has been under Israeli sovereignty since 1981; eastern, northern and southern Jerusalem, which have been under Israeli sovereignty since 1967; and Judea and Samaria, over which Israel has shared governance with the PLO since 1994 in accordance with signed agreements witnessed by EU representatives.

The EU's second action was the publication Tuesday of EU foreign policy commissioner Catherine Ashton's letter to her fellow commissioners informing them that by the end of the year, the EU will publish binding requirements for specially labeling Israeli goods produced by Jews beyond the 1949 Armistice Lines exported to EU member states.

The EU's third act was its decision to define Hezbollah's "military wing" as a terrorist organization, but leave all the other Hezbollah-related institutions untouched. While the move has been applauded by Israeli politicians desperate to deny Europe's animosity, Europe's partial designation of Hezbollah as a terrorist entity is another act of aggression against Israel.

By pretending that Hezbollah has a legitimate "political wing" - a transparent lie that even Hezbollah has denied - the EU ensures that Hezbollah personnel and Hezbollah institutions can continue to find safe haven in Europe so long as the avoid attacking non-Jewish Europeans.

Hezbollah agents can continue raising money, planning attacks, and recruiting terrorists in Europe, as long as Hezbollah labels the activities "political."

In other words, all Hezbollah operations directed against Israel and Jews will remain lawful in Europe.

Israel has for years been operating under the misguided belief that the EU would eventually come around and side with Israel against its enemies.

This belief has been informed by equal doses of innocence and wishful thinking. The EU's decision to initiate an economic war against the Jewish state forces Israel to abandon its long-held illusions.

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