The Brewing Egyptian Hostage Crisis

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Not long ago, I used this space to ask if the Arab Spring was like 2009 (the failed Twitter Revolution in Iran), 1989 (the democratic revolutions in Eastern Europe) or 1979 (the Islamist revolution in Iran). Like others, I believed the end of Mubarak’s autocratic rule was something to celebrate, but I worried that what ultimately replaces Mubarak may not be worth celebrating. And sadly, a year later, elements of the Arab Spring are starting to resemble 1979, as evidenced by the brewing hostage crisis in Egypt.

Nineteen American citizens working for well-known and well-established nonprofit groups are being held on trumped-up charges that they tried to destabilize Egypt. Their offices were raided in late December, some are holed up in the U.S. embassy and all of them have been barred from flying out of Egypt. As Time magazine notes, December is significant. December is when Congress passed a number of conditions for aid to the Egyptian military, including proving a “commitment to Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel, progress toward democratic reforms, and the protection of free expression, association and religion.” Not only are the last two of those conditions not being met by Egypt, but Time adds that Cairo’s case against the Americans is “propagated by the military-led regime.”

That’s also an important part of the story. To its credit, the Egyptian military played a key role in persuading Mubarak to cede power, and in preventing Egypt from careening into chaos. The Egyptian military is now trying to serve as something of a referee/power broker/king-maker. Up until this crisis, Washington recognized that while having the Egyptian military in charge is not ideal, it may be necessary to hold the political pieces together in Egypt. But if this is how the “responsible” parties in post-Mubarak Egypt are going to treat Americans, then it’s time to reevaluate everything about this interests-based relationship. Hopefully, Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey is conveying that very message in his talks in Cairo.

The clear, unambiguous and indeed private message should be threefold:

• The U.S. aid spigot—an average of $2 billion per year since 1979—will be shut off if these hostages aren’t freed and if post-Mubarak Egypt continues to resemble post-Shah Iran. As Time puts it, “if Egypt’s generals get away with the NGO crackdown and the political humiliation of its biggest foreign benefactor, it’s going to set a dangerous precedent for other regimes testing the waters of democracy.”

• The United States is prepared to radically rethink its security posture and force structure in the region. There are many other countries in the region that will take U.S. aid dollars and assist the U.S. in protecting its strategic interests.

• U.S. force will be employed if American interests or citizens are again threatened. Washington cannot allow another far-off revolution to hold America hostage.

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  • Yeshayahu Goldfeld

    The Egyptian self styled revolution is a cruel trick played by the military and the Islamist parties to prolong the slow death of that nation by poverty, unemployment and hopelessness.Only the generals and party leaders know exactly that there is no escape from dooming disaster -starvation and lawlessness.The uneducated , primitive and religious masses are fed with messianic and nationalistic hopes .The last year has proved to even the most gullible of the Egyptian masses that neither the former rulers nor the rich could have changed the inevitable disaster of overpopulation and chronic mismanagement. Therefore the last and always affective propaganda slogan is now offered to the poor and downtrodden Egyptians : America and Israel as planners of the destruction and downfall of the country.It is very interesting to read the illiterate letters to the editors of the newspapers full of rabid hatred and idiotic dribble.

    • crypticguise

      Excellent analysis. Egypt is dying, they are incapable of even feeding themselves and the IslamoNazis are actually supported by a majority of the ignorant masses of Muslim 7th century citizens. Cut off the 2 Billion dollars and watch their Islamic Nation die.

      I would tell them to release the hostages or we'll destroy a huge segment of their military. These Muslim Morons are insane. You can not negotiate anything with insane human beings. To hell with them all.

  • StephenD

    This "game" that we are watching played is merely what it has always been; a power grab. As the people begin to literally starve and we capitulate to the M.B. (who will act as intermediaries on our behalf and have the hostages freed) and allow them to be the distributors of food stuffs given, they will be seen by the populace as the benefactors. Suddenly, they will be very popular indeed. If my children are starving and you feed them…I am on your side.

    The M.B. will come to power not by Proclamation but rather by Acclimation.

  • John MJ

    One small question for you – why should the USA want to "end Assad's reign" as you put it? I can think of no action so patently against western interest, not to mention the interests of the Syrian Christians and the Alawate sect of Islam to which President Assad belongs, than ending his reign and consequently having to put up with an Islamic theocracy in Syria.

    I never thought for one moment that any good would come out of the so-called 'Arab Spring' (which should be called Freedom's Winter' if we're honest) and right from the beginning I advocated that the west should continue its support for the incumbent governments as the least bad option and so far my opinion has been vindicated – in spades.

    • puc

      i agree with you entirely.
      puc canada

    • ObamaYoMoma

      In his world, Islam is a Religion of Peace™ being hijacked by a tiny minority of extremists. You and I, on the other hand, are Islamophobes in his eyes.

      He is also incredibly self-hating, as he admitted in his last article that 9/11 was America's chickens coming home to roost because the USA according to him had abandoned Afghanistan as soon as the Soviets fled Afghanistan. In other words, his ignorance with respect to Islam is astonishing.

    • PaulisAlive

      Israel demands it and it is up to their colony, the US, to follow orders.

  • William_Z

    When a president spends three years talking and doing crap, it's inevitable that he becomes hostage to his own incompetence.

  • Francisco Bravo

    What were you expecting from a Hussein?. He is the perfect Al-Taqiya practicioner. Empowering the MB in the name of Allah makes sence.

  • AntiSharia

    One should never expect foreign policy coherence from a Democratic administration. Here's an idea for them no aid to any Muslim country anywhere, for any reason. The Islamists are on the move and will be the major force in the Middle East from Marrakesh to Muscat. It will be some time, probably decades, before the idea of real secular democracy takes hold in the Middle East as the only option for freedom.

  • ASG

    Say what you will about the Iraq war. We can now see the clear differences.

    Iraq- Evil vicious murdering dictator removed from power and executed for his crimes.

    Egypt – Evil dictator removed from power, executed, Egypt's military assumes power, ethnic cleansing begins, acts of war already perpetrated against their neighbor, US citizens detained and lives threatened, US reporter sexually assaulted and attacked in the most barbaric fashion, Muslim Brotherhood comes to power, Al Qaeda gains power in the background, instability throughout the region, other Islamists emboldened by what they see in Egypt and also begin to rise up, other brutal dictators are overthrown and the instability spreads further.

    The biggest crime in this whole thing is Obama authorizing bombing missions to aid known al Qaeda operatives in Libya. Operatives the CIA recognized as literally fighting against OUR soldiers in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Sickening.

  • UCSPanther

    They're gonna party like it's 1979…

  • ObamaYoMoma

    Like others, I believed the end of Mubarak’s autocratic rule was something to celebrate,

    Wow…what an astonishing admission to make. No wonder this writer believes that 9/11 was America's chickens coming home to roost like he admitted in his last article.

    progress toward democratic reforms,

    How many democracies are in the Middle East? Can you say zero. How many attempts to establish democracy in the Middle East inevitably failed? All of them. What do you call people that keep making the same damn stupid mistake over and over again while expecting a different outcome? Mentally incompetent morons. By the way, how are those so-called democracies in Iraq and Afghanistan doing these days?

    I hate to rain on this writer's parade again, but Islam is not a religion as he stupidly assumes. Instead, it is a supremacist theo-political totalitarian ideology that masquerades as being a religion to dupe gullible useful idiots, and it is completely antithetical to democracy and everything it stands for. Once the writer understands that, then he will understand why Western style democracy with its intrinsic freedom and liberty is absolutely impossible in the Islamic world on a long term basis. Of course, this writer will automatically dismiss everything I write because he thinks I'm an Islamophobe and a hater.

    Not only are the last two of those conditions not being met by Egypt,

    How gullible can this writer be? None of them are being met, at least on an honest basis.

    To its credit, the Egyptian military played a key role in persuading Mubarak to cede power,

    Damn…the writer says that like it was a good thing.

    “led from behind” in Libya

    Uhm…we had no business in Libya, just like we have no business in Syria.

    sat silent far too long regarding Syria and then inexplicably did nothing to end Assad’s reign, abruptly yanked U.S. forces out of Iraq, and recently sped up the timetable for withdrawing troops from Afghanistan.

    This loon writer is so mentally incompetent it's hard to believe that anyone would publish his garbage

    Make no mistake: the president is not to blame for the hostages being taken, just as President Carter wasn’t to blame for the Iranian hostage crisis.

    All right this loon writer is definitely off his rocker. I can't believe that FPM would continue to publish his moronic garbage and continue to torture their readers at the same time. With all due disrespect, Carter invited the hostages to be taken by his stupidity, by his mental incompetence, and by his projection of weakness, and Obama is doing the same exact thing!

    • Ron Carnine

      Dear Obama, I know you are sincere and you write insightful blogs, but to say that Islam is not a religion is a terrible mistake. Islam has all the earmarks of religion, it has doctrines (doctrine of God, of man, of salvation, eternal life in heaven, treatment of your fellow man, Jihad etc). yes it has theo/political ramifications but to say it isn't a religion is dead wrong. That's what makes it so dangerous. If I can convince you that I (as an Islamic instructor) hold the keys of heaven and hell and that you can get to heaven for sure in only one way, death during Jihad. I then hold great power over you, because these poorly educated folks are much like Christians in times past when the Bible was chained to the pulpit in a church. Once people learned to read and were given a Bible in their own language, the church was forced to change and it faced its own Reformation. Islam, as you know, makes people captive. For example, women under Islam are treated like captive slaves, useful mostly for cooking, cleaning, sexual exploitation, and bearing children. And if the reports are true, they like it. Islam is a theocracy, and has laws for every aspect of human existence. Their loyalty to the Koran, Mohammed, and Allah is fanatical and unquestionable. Only a religion holds people with this much power. If we are going to deal with them we must primarily deal with them as a religion,

      • ObamaYoMoma

        to say that Islam is not a religion is a terrible mistake. Islam has all the earmarks of religion, it has doctrines (doctrine of God, of man, of salvation, eternal life in heaven, treatment of your fellow man, Jihad etc). yes it has theo/political ramifications but to say it isn't a religion is dead wrong.

        A mistake? The word Islam in Arabic means “submission” and the word Muslim in Arabic means “one who submits.” Indeed, Islam first and foremost requires all adherents to totally, completely, and unconditionally submit to the will of Allah, where the freedom of conscience is forbidden and where blasphemy and apostasy are capital offenses.

        Therefore, name all the faith-based religions in the world that similarly forbid the freedom of conscience and likewise make blasphemy and apostasy capital offenses. Of course, the answer is none of them, which irrefutably proves that Islam is not a faith-based religion.

        Islam is a supremacist theo-political totalitarian ideology that masquerades as being a religion to dupe the gullible societies it intends to subjugate into a very draconian form of Islamic totalitarianism via the imposition of Sharia for the purpose of stealth demographic conquest to make Islam supreme.

        As a matter of fact, Islam is far closer to Communism than it is to being a religion, as exactly like Communism, Islam seeks world domination, and the end result of Islam, exactly like Communism, is totalitarianism and lots and lots of misery.

        Furthermore, if you study the evolution of Islam, you will learn that although Islam initially started out as being a religion, subsequent to the Hijra, when Muhammad was cast out of Mecca and forced to migrate to Medina in 622 CE, Muhammad abandoned religion and turned to jihad, politics, and conquest and in the process morphed Islam into something else entirely different from religion altogether and into what it is today, which again is a supremacist theo-political totalitarian ideology, and it was this transformation of Islam from the realm of religion to the realms of jihad, politics, and conquest that finally set the stage for Islam to once and for all become very successful after 13 previous years of nothing but very dismal failure.

        In fact, had Islam remained a religion, like it was initially before the Hijra and shortly thereafter, Islam would have died out in the deserts of Arabia with the death of Muhammad and no one today would have ever heard of Islam and Muhammad.

        Furthermore, per the doctrine of abrogation, which also couldn’t be more mainstream within Islam as it is taught and advocated by all schools of Islamic jurisprudence within Islam and universally accepted by all sects and divisions within both Sunni and Shi’a Islam, when verses of the Koran come into conflict with each other because they contradict one another, the latter issued verses of the Koran abrogate, i.e. supersede and replace, the earlier issued verses. Thus, all the earlier peaceful verses of the Koran, which includes all the verses that originated from before the Hijra and shortly thereafter when Islam was only a religion, have all been abrogated by the latter issued verses of the Koran they conflict with and that command all Muslims to wage jihad against unbelievers for the spread of Islam.

        Therefore, not only did Muhammad morph Islam into something else entirely different from religion altogether when he turned to jihad, politics, and conquest subsequent to the Hijra, but also all of the earlier peaceful verses of the Koran that originate from the time when Islam was a religion, and the same ones the Muslims love to cite today to dupe gullible useful idiots, have all been abrogated and thus no longer apply.

        Lastly, the sixth and most important pillar of Islam, Jihad, which is holy fighting in the cause of Allah against non-Muslim unbelievers to make Islam supreme, is an obligatory duty for every Muslim on earth. No exceptions.

        Therefore, ALL MAINSTREAM ORTHODOX MUSLIMS ON EARTH are jihadists. A tiny minority of them are violent jihadists, while the vast overwhelming majority of them are non-violent jihadists, and the few that are not jihadists are not Muslims at all, but instead blasphemous apostates that per the dictates of MAINSTREAM ORTHODOX ISLAM must be executed.

        Indeed, how many other faith-based religions have a similar pillar to the sixth and most pillar of Islam? None of them. It also makes Islam incompatible with all non-Muslim unbelievers in the world as well.

        Hence, your assertion – “to say that Islam is not a religion is a terrible mistake” – indicates that you are neophyte regarding your knowledge of Islam.

        If I can convince you that I (as an Islamic instructor) hold the keys of heaven and hell and that you can get to heaven for sure in only one way, death during Jihad […] Their loyalty to the Koran, Mohammed, and Allah is fanatical and unquestionable.

        Actually, fanaticism or faith has nothing to do with it. Meanwhile, the freedom of conscience being forbidden and the fact that blasphemy and apostasy are punished under the pain of death has everything to do with it.

        Therefore, I stand by my previous post. Islam is not a faith-based religion, as it is instead a supremacist theo-political totalitarian ideology. In addition, since Islam is not a faith-based religion, it isn't protected under the first amendment of the constitution and thus it should be outlawed and mass Muslim immigration with all of its excess baggage should be banned and reversed ASAP.

  • WilliamJamesWard

    Obama is in touch with the Muslim Brotherhood and they are who the Egyptian
    Military does not want as they are Mubarak by extension and have always been
    his power. Until they are overthrown by stronger military forces there will be
    nothing but slow decay and hardened positions. What makes no sense is the
    risking of aid monies, is there someone who will pay higher than America? It may
    be that the total colapse of any government in Egypt is the desired outcome,
    then it can not be a danger to it's neighbors while being another place for
    foreign food aid which will be stolen..It will be hard times under the pyramid.

  • Flowerknife_us

    We cut off $, they cut off Suez.

    What new friends across the whole hostility of North Africa?

    The reasons for 1492 are going to revisit us all once again.

    To re-open Suez would be a major undertaking. Especially without a secure base of operations on land. Conducting such operations by sea is problematic. The bulk of the Ships necessary to conduct a seaborn assalt of any weight were sold or scraped during the Clinton administration.

  • koran kid

    It is not just the export of oil and terrorism. It is the indoctrination of the people with half-baked marxist ideology, the poisonous mix of nationalism and socialism that the authoritarian or totalitarian snake injects into the bloodstream when it bites the young. Being a superficial kind of guy and an empty suit, more impressed with appearance than substance, your main man Barry has just caved in to superficial change. A man of the people in his own activist image, in touch with the needs of the poor and downtrodden, takes over from the cruel ivory towered tyrant! A fresh face with an honest mission. But Barry, the man on the street after the revolution is the same man on the street as before the revolution. Forget hope and change, Barry thinks it will be better to buy off religious blokes with beards than secular blokes with suits, and the blokes with beards think the same way for their people. This lot have worked out the line of least resistance, that is all, and filling the poor with hate and a target to blame while cosying up to that target with veiled threats for cash has worked well in the past. Solution? You have to break the dynamic, and here the strong spot is the weak spot. Attack through the women. Off with their burkhas! Send in sex kittens with the army, and give the women back their sexuality and a businesses to run and a decent husband who mans up to the challenges of the modern world. All sorry aid should be channelled that way. There will be failures, that is business, but out of the friction will come profits sooner or later. What you are moving towards is a facelift and a beard implant and the Koran Kid blaming the Yanks for their shortsightedness down at the local Mosque, at half the price it cost to spread the message of hate via the dictator, who syphoned off plenty for his cronies and his wife's shopping trips. Send your money my way. No need for ad agencies, I hate women anyway, and I promise to keep the cost of feeding the masses pseudo religious marxist claptrap cheap and amongst the brotherhood. Hey Barry, double the aid budget, you will be popular at home with your type, and send an army of well funded aid workers for me to manipulate, so you can be hated abroad more than before. You can pay for it out of defense spending cuts. Oh, I forgot, you're doing that already. At least someone has a strategy that they are executing with religious zeal. Oh, come all ye faithful……

  • BS77

    Keep drinking the Kool Aid about the Arab Spring, the Democracy Movement and all that nonsense…….there is NO democracy in Egypt, Somalia, Sudan Libya etc…..just hysteria, violence, human rights abuses and worse. I feel very sorry for the women and children living in these terrible conditions…for the average bloke who is just trying to make a living and be secure in such an environment. It must be very tough.

  • crypticguise

    My prognostication is that our President Pinochio will do NOTHING. Another situation where it is in his political best interests to vote "present".

  • Cole

    To oust the Assad the Syrian leader – this is the devil we know!

    We knew this guy was oppressive, we know that is how Islamic nations conduct their business. FREE is NOT the NORM. FNN

    But with the big egos – these dictators place their own interests above, Islamic rule.

    And that small buffer – prevents the kind of Pakistan Talibanization or the Islamic free fall of Somalia, from occurring in those parts.

    These are not easy decisions –

    If these countries want to go the full Islamic – there may be nothing we can do.

    Its Islamic law after that – and the United States – is to them the mothership of what is forbidden. And it would be reasoned that every effort should be made against them and their interests. Just like Iran has done. And it could already be the unspoken reasoning, behind the Egyptian arrests.

    We may not be able to avoid the current conflict – which was from the start brought to us.

    The one good thing about waiting or proceeding cautiously is that opportunities may present themselves – that are not seen at the moment.

    With Libya Kaddhafi was hated, by many in the Arab League – when that window of opportunity opened it was probably wise to take it – but with Syria – things could look quite different.

  • BUTSeriously

    The Copts must be given an independent state in Egypt as they are the original inhabitants of this land. The Muslims are invaders here. A democratic Christian state should be made between Egypt and Palestine, protecting both the Christians and the Israelis from Islamic attacks via terror groups like Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the P.A. The Muslim Arabs must give rights and respect of the land to the native peoples and prove the fiction 'Islam is a religion of peace'. Egypt is large enough to support multiple states, while demanding on-going states in tiny Palestine is a call for Islamic genocide on all non-Muslims. The says all non-Muslim countries must act the same way to Muslims.

  • Marti

    What was the line in his book?
    Oh yeah, when the political winds get ugly, I will stand with the Muslims. Or something like that! Wake up people the people being held were helping to stir up THE ARAB SPRING!

  • PaulisAlive

    What are the so-called "non-profits" they were working for? What are the names of the criminal suspects (not hostages) and are they citizens of Israel? I have little doubt they are guilty.

  • TheLastBestHope

    The Mid East is on fire and Iran, not Egypt, is where the arsonists live. Obama is busy today twisting Israeli arms to not do what clearly must be done. Why? He is saving war on Iran for his reelection. Americans held hostage in Egypt is a side show that won't be allowed to distract from the main event.

    Obama will then present himself as the President who killed Osama, ended the unpopular wars in Iraq/Afghanistan and took down the hated Ayatollahs. MSM/Pravda media will portray Obama as tougher than Patton, as the man who saved Israel and as a new age Abe Lincoln.

    Our cancerous Debt, Big Brother ObamaCare, our self-defeating energy non-policy and the millions without jobs will be spoken of only by Republican Tea Party defeatists too dumb and ungrateful to bow before our Dear Leader.

    The goal is not just more 2nd term vacations… but a sweeping win that returns Pelosi and keeps Reid in power. Then the terrible 3 get 4 more…and this time they'll finish US.

    Happy Presidents Day.