February 4, 2011
(THIS WILL BE A TAD LENGTHY, BUT YOU DON’T WON’T TO MISS THIS NEWS ABOUT EGYPT!)
From "not-usually-snowy" Oklahoma, this ole man writes you this Friday. Out here where the Bride of my youth and I live, we have gotten what would appear to be 8 to 10 inches of snow. From Tuesday to today, the LORD has allowed me to pull approximately forty people out of the snow and give each of them a GOSPEL TRACT, a testimony, and just in general, to be a "Good Samaritan." I chuckled last evening as Tom told the people of WHBC that his father didn’t know when to go out and when to stay in. In the "sense" of "winter" Tom is more like his mother than his dad. She really got after me that first day when I went out in the blizzard conditions. Such is life!
Our booklets for our football trip came in today. The IDF officers and soldiers are going to really love these booklets which we will leave with them. As of this moment I figure I am about $9,300.00 shy of getting all the money raised which we will need for this trip just from my perspective and not counting what the fellas still have to come up with.
It would appear, from my correspondence with the Hotel in Jerusalem, and in talking with Dr. Sharp, that his group probably will have to stay with the Lt. Colonel they are entertaining on Monday, February 21st, and my fellas and the Jews will dine with and listen to Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon. That’s a shame; but since they’ve already paid for supper at their Hotel that’s probably how it's going to have be this time around. Jewish Hotel owners are not too much on letting you come for coffee when everyone else has to pay for a meal!
Now, for Middle East News:
HEADLINE: Egypt May Be Heading for Civil War!
Mubarak is Energized for Battle by Obama's Bid to Oust Him! [Isn’t that a blessing, our "muslim" is trying to ‘oust’ the Egyptian Muslim!]
In the seething, unpredictable and fast-moving chain of events in Egypt, Middle East Sources has pinned down four more or less hard facts that are important to note:
1. Mubarak is determined to stay.
The embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is working to survive even if Barack Obama makes good on his threat to cut off aid to Egypt unless its ruler quits.
Our sources report that to win the biggest battle of his political life - and save his family and fortune – the Egyptian president, a warhorse of thirty years, is willing not only to throw Egypt into bloody mayhem but also to sacrifice his private capital.
It is important to bear in mind that Mubarak's private fortune is valued on the international markets at $15-20 billion.
Middle East sources in Cairo report signs that he has begun spreading about large sums of cash from moneys relayed by his sons, who left Egypt at the outset of the disorders and are managing his financial empire from London and Geneva. [It has been reported that they fled with 30 bags of Gold.]
With enough cash in hand, more than any opposition faction can lay its hands on, he appeared stronger rather than weaker after a ten-day protest campaign to oust him.
Despite his broadcast pledge Saturday night, Jan. 29, not to seek another term in office, to transfer power peacefully in the last months of his presidency up until September and to die in Egypt, Mubarak appears more determined than ever to fight to the last whatever it takes.
HEADLINE: Mubarak musters his military resources!
Our Cairo sources have learned that Mubarak may have installed in the Abdeen presidential palace, under the protection of the Republican Guard, a private military command for orchestrating operations to keep him and his allies on top of the uprising against him.
There are also reports that the RG commander, Maj. Gen. Samy Dyab, has placed himself directly under President Mubarak's command and no longer heeds orders from the defense ministry or the Egyptian general staff.
If matters come to a head, Mubarak will have at his disposal the Republican Guard and its heavily armored division, which is probably the best organized, most effective and best trained unit in the Egyptian Army.
2. The national army may be switching sides.
On Wednesday afternoon, Feb. 2, the Egyptian army, which for nine days sat on the fence, appeared to have abandoned its neutrality.
Military checkpoints let 50,000 Mubarak loyalists, thugs of the Al Baltaqiya (literally Fist Companies), pass through without inspection and swarm into Tahrir Square, armed with automatic rifles, knives, swords, axes and Molotov cocktails.
Some rode in on camels and horses and trampled the anti-Mubarak protesters still gathered in the square.
Thursday morning, Feb. 3, the army began making arrests. They appeared to be only rounding up protesters, who had by then dragged iron barriers and placed them around the square, and not touching the Mubarak supporters barricaded in tall buildings overlooking the square.
Therefore, Vice President Omar Suleiman's statement that he was suspending his offer of a dialogue with opposition leaders until the protesters went home played more to the interest of the pro-Mubarak faction than its opponents.
If the protesters scatter and return to their normal lives, it will be hard to get them back on the street, whereas the pro-Mubarak legions are organized as paramilitary militias and can afford to stay on standby for further orders.
HEADLINE: A ruling triumvirate is emerging!
3. A rising star?
Gen. Omar Suleiman, former Intelligence Minister and Mubarak's new Vice President, was clearly gaining stature Thursday. The reasons for this are still unclear. The face Cairo turned to Washington was of a solidly united Egyptian military controlled by three officers, Suleiman, Defense Minister Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, and Chief of Staff Gen. Sami Enan.
As these lines are being written, no reliable source in Washington or Cairo could say for certain whether the trio was a triumvirate working together or three separate entities in competition, each with his own agenda.
The fog over the power structure behind, alongside or against Mubarak persuaded the White House Wednesday night to post copies to multiple addresses of President Obama's ultimatum to Egyptian army chiefs to remove Mubarak in the coming hours or else forfeit US aid to Egypt:
Special envoy Ambassador Frank G. Wisner and the US Ambassador in Cairo, Margaret Scobey, delivered the message to Egyptian generals; Secretary of State Hillary Clinton picked up the phone to Omar Suleiman, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates communicated with Field Marshal Tantawi, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Adm. Mike Mullen phoned Sami Enan.
Loyalties at the second officer level from the top were even harder to determine. No one could tell, for example, where Egyptian Air Force commander Air Marshal (the equivalent of Lieutenant General) Reda Mahmoud Hafez Mohamed, stood at any given moment. Sunday, January 30, two Air Force F-16 fighter jets buzzed the opposition demonstrators shouting anti-Mubarak slogans in Tahrir Square.
But as the days went by without a resolution of the crisis, no military or intelligence source could swear to the Air Force chief's commitment to the president or to the orders coming down from the top three officers who appear to be running the show.
HEADLINE: Washington's campaign against Mubarak is stuttering!
4. The Obama campaign hits a hump.
President Obama's drive to remove the autocratic Mubarak from the Egyptian presidency in favor of a transitional military regime that will call new, free and democratic elections and institute reforms has run into a major obstacle.
It went swimmingly in the first days – from Jan. 25 to Feb. 1.
World leaders were giving the media their unreserved opinion that the Mubarak era in Egypt was over.
But then, Wednesday, Feb. 2 the tide turned. Mubarak exhibited surprising symptoms of recovery and proved he was able to muster forces ruthless enough to fight and throw back the forces ranged against him.
INTEL sources in Cairo say Friday and Saturday, Feb. 4-5 will be the critical days for determining whether the Egyptian president can sustain this momentum and hold out in Abdeed palace.
If he lasts beyond the weekend – and the army stays neutral – his chances of overturning Obama's objective will be greatly enhanced. It must be said, however, that at the age of 82 and in poor health, the Egyptian president may drop unexpectedly by the wayside.
Still, following this setback, our Washington sources report that since Wednesday, the Obama administration looks like reluctantly getting ready to settle for half a loaf, namely, accepting the reality of a presumed military triumvirate ruling in Cairo without the opposition parties, so long as Mubarak goes.
But even that partial feat is no longer a done deal. By Thursday night, Feb. 3, the casualties were mounting and the nightmare of widespread civil violence country loomed ever closer.
It was not the first time a US administration wanted to see the back of an Egyptian ruler – and one, moreover, willing to fight Islamist extremism and treat Israel as a strategic partner.
It happened exactly 30 years ago - and was probably instrumental in bringing the current bad guy Hosni Mubarak to power.
In April 1981, seven months before his assassination, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat arrived in Washington and asked President Ronald Reagan for an evening of his time to view movies secretly filmed by Egyptian military intelligence. Reagan gave his consent, which he was later to regret.
The films had caught Egyptian army and intelligence officers plotting Sadat's assassination. The US president made no comment on what he had seen. But after it was over, White House officials confided to members of the Egyptian president's party that in their view, Sadat was obsessed with a fear of assassination and greatly exaggerated his peril.
On September 20, 1981, when he still had 17 days to live, Sadat was given a second batch of Egyptian intelligence films showing the conspirators' plans were maturing fast.
The Egyptian president said nothing. He was thought at the time to have fatalistically resigned himself to dying.
The plotters were easily identified by their uniforms and insignia and were recorded planning to blow up the train scheduled to carry Sadat from Cairo to Mansoura on Sept. 26. Yet he did not order the conspirators' arrest, nor did he cancel the trip. All he did upon boarding the train was to ask for a new railway crew.
Plans for regime change begun a year before Sadat murder!
The former crew was to have acted for the plotters by slowing the train down halfway between the two cities. A bomb on the tracks was to explode and gunmen shoot a rocket-propelled grenade into the president's car.
Unaware of this, the replacement crew kept the train going at high speed past the ambush point.
Sadat survived the first plan to kill him – but not for long.
Ten days later, on October 6, 1981, the assassins' bullets reached him while he was watching a military parade in Cairo. An unnamed Egyptian officer turned a chair upside down over his body as a target marker.
The Egyptian military committee which went into action straight after the assassination assured the smooth transition of power to Vice President Hosni Mubarak.
A year later, in October 1982, the senior Egyptian journalist Anis Mansour, editor of the 'October' weekly and Sadat's friend and confidant (whose articles were widely read in the West and the Arab world as reliable pointers to Sadat's intentions), wrote that this military committee had been working for a whole year before the president was murdered, in regular consultation with Vice President Mubarak and in step with Washington.
Therefore, 30 years after that Egyptian upheaval and its aftermath, Mubarak should not have been surprised to find himself in the same position as his predecessor in 1991 – with one important difference: Sadat was removed from office by assassins' bullets, he, Mubarak, was meant to survive an operation connived with Washington to drum him out on the back of "spontaneous" protest demonstrations.
Washington's plans to remove Mubarak date back three years!
Middle East sources report that for four years, Mubarak was in on the plan hatched between Washington, Egyptian army elements and Egyptian opposition groups. It was first put on the White House table in the fall of 2007, towards the end of the third year of President George W. Bush's second term.
The Egyptian ruler had good foreknowledge of its main features and told his associates on more than one occasion that they encompassed the steps for his overthrow and the nature of the regime to replace his. Mubarak viewed President Barack Obama's public demand early on in the current protest campaign for his regime to grant more freedom and institute democratic reforms as a coded signal for encouraging the conspirators.
A US intelligence report dated Sept. 10, 2007 which came into Mubarak's hands revealed Washington's objectives for the post-Mubarak era.
The document outlined the steps the US would promote for engendering democracy in Egypt against Mubarak's will. It showed Washington working for substantial changes in Egyptian society through the very circles which last week rode the popular wave to bring about Mubarak's downfall:
This is how the 2007 US intelligence report phrased it:
"Our fundamental reform goal in Egypt remains democratic transformation, including the expansion of political freedom and democratic pluralism, respect for human rights and a stable, democratic and legitimate transition to the post-Mubarak era… President Mubarak is deeply skeptical of the US role in democracy promotion. Nonetheless, USG programs are helping to establish democratic institutions and strengthen individual voices for change in Egypt...
Due to ongoing GOE interference with US democracy and human rights assistance programs, the Deputies Committee decided on April 10 to proceed with offshore programming as appropriate…"
The US and Egyptian opposition groups set early 2011 as target date!
The document went on to describe the activity of American bodies within the outlawed Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood; American funding for Egyptian organizations dedicated to fighting corruption; and American steps for electoral reform, the strengthening of civil society, civic education, human rights, women's rights, community development, independent media and transparency.
A year later, in 2008, the Bush administration began inviting Egyptian opposition figures to Washington to discuss the preparations for toppling Mubarak with officials of the National Security Council.
According to a top-secret document compiled in late 2008 to sum up their meetings, the two sides agreed they would be ready to go in early 2011:
"X (on the Egyptian side) claimed that several opposition forces - including the Wafd, Nasserite, Karama and Tagammu parties and the Muslim Brotherhood, Kifaya, and the Revolutionary Socialist movement – have agreed to support an unwritten plan for the transition to a parliamentary democracy, involving a weakened presidency and an empowered prime minister and parliament, before the scheduled 2011 presidential elections.
"According to X, the opposition is interested in receiving support from the army and the police for a transitional government prior to the 2011 elections."
This document is highly significant, say ME sources, because it revealed for the first time that the schemers seeking to remove Mubarak from the presidency had collaborated with Egyptian military and police elites in the course of 2010.
Regime change drive carried over from Bush to Obama!
The conspiracy and its discovery by Mubarak engendered a deep chill in relations between the Bush administration and his regime. Those ties went into deep freeze in January 2009 when President Obama entered the white House and instructed US intelligence agencies to open up contacts with army factions seeking regime change in Cairo.
From late 2009, Mubarak stopped traveling to Washington and has barely exchanged a word with President Obama in writing or by phone. The Egyptian ruler could not afford to forfeit US aid, which is close to $2 billion per annum, or forego Egyptian-US military ties which give his army access to advanced technologies. He therefore allowed high-ranking Egyptian army officers to stay in touch with their American counterparts and visit Washington.
Each time one of those officers returned from a trip, he would be privately quizzed by Mubarak about whom he met and the nature of American queries. None of those officers forewarned him of the US-Egyptian military-intelligence conspiracy brewing to topple him. All the same, our sources report that although extremely ill in the last two years, Mubarak picked up clues to the plot coming his way.
At his private meetings in the past year with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Saudi King Abdullah and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Mubarak sometimes jokingly advised them to make their next appointments with him through Washington because he was not sure how long he'd be around.
He never explained whether he was referring to his failing health or his falling standing with Obama, about whose Middle East policies he was harshly critical.
Mubarak was wont to denigrate the entire gamut of Obama administration policies on Iran and its nuclear program, the Persian Gulf states, Syria and its president, Lebanon and the Palestinians as a series of catastrophes that could only drag the Middle East into armed conflicts and bloodshed.
A nest of US agents in the Egyptian war room?
In the way the uprising unfolded on Jan. 25 and from updates he received from security, intelligence and the army chiefs, Mubarak found confirmation of his suspicion that a military faction in close cahoots with Washington was functioning clandestinely in the Egyptian general staff war room. He, if anyone, would have recognized this situation from the one prevailing in the Sadat era.
Mubarak cited to the few confidants he still trusted at least seven more clues to the cards stacked against him:
1. No single local Egyptian group or faction has the skills or funds for orchestrating and bankrolling popular demonstrations on the countrywide scale seen in the last week. Therefore a foreign hand was at work.
2. There was evidence that the demonstrations were not spontaneous as depicted by the Arab and international media. Each rally suppressed by Egyptian security forces was replaced with several more springing up fully organized at several points nearby.
3. An unseen hand raised and lowered the flames in a tactic designed to frustrate effective riot control by Egyptian security and police forces. Someone was directing the masses in this game of cat and mouse.
4. World media coverage, particularly by the television networks - whose broadcasts the regime could not black out like the Internet and cellular phone networks - fitted the protest organizers' logistical requirements like a glove. This time, we witnessed a television revolution, in Mubarak's view - not an Internet revolution.
The army chiefs were away in Washington at the decisive moment!
5. Aside from fairly tardy coverage of events in Alexandria, Western correspondents focused their pens, mikes and cameras for the most part on central Cairo, although riots raged in at least 15 other Egyptian cities in the Delta region. There, the violence and brutality were far greater than in the capital, leaving hundreds of dead in their wake. In Mubarak's opinion, the Americans used the media to show the world a sanitized, idealized version of a non-violent popular uprising they were openly supporting.
6. For the first five days of the protests, the US president deliberately avoided talking to Mubarak. He only put in a phone call after the Egyptian president's first speech Friday, Jan. 28, in which he announced the appointment of Gen. Omar Suleiman as Vice President and a willingness to enact constitutional reforms.
This strengthened Mubarak's conviction that the disturbances in Egypt were being directed by a US intelligence command operating alongside the White House.
His certainty was further bolstered by the condescending, hectoring tone of Obama's terse comments on television about the situation in Egypt.
7. Mubarak and his allies have no doubt at all that it was not blind chance that caused the protest riots to erupt when the chief of staff of Egypt's armed forces, Lt. Gen. Sami Hafez Enan and other general staff members were in Washington as guests of the Pentagon and the US army.
Only four days into the uprising, on Friday, Jan. 28, did the Egyptian generals start wending their way to the airport to fly home. Someone made sure that when the decisive call came for the army to defend the regime its top commanders would not be there to heed it.
HEADLINE: Israel Responds to VP Suleiman's Request for Military-Intelligence Aid!
From mid-week, Israel has been feeding intelligence to Egypt's Vice President Gen. Omar Suleiman, who officiated until last Friday Jan. 28, as Intelligence Minister, and was a close ally of the government in Jerusalem.
This service has been coordinated with the Obama administration, Washington sources report.
Telephone wires have been buzzing between Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak and US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and between Israeli Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gaby Ashkenazi and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen.
The situation is so fluid that it is hard to say where Egypt is heading next. But meanwhile,
Washington has given Israel the nod to meet Suleiman's requests - although it is far from clear whether this assistance props up the Mubarak regime or promotes the vice president's prospects of succeeding him – with Washington's backing.
This would suggest that the Obama administration is wavering between two courses.
On the one hand, President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are publicly demanding the orderly transition of power in Cairo at once and reforms to meet the people's demands.
On the other, Washington has approved military intelligence aid from Israel to Cairo, which could help President Hosni Mubarak and the army focus on putting down the popular upheaval convulsing Egypt.
Israel also looks to own security interests!
The extent to which Israeli aid is helping Mubarak stay in power, and letting the army chiefs hold the balance between him and the masses, is hard to gauge in this constantly twisting and turning crisis. According to ME military sources, the fact that Israel has not intervened directly in the conflict may have indirectly given both Mubarak and the military chiefs a leg up - even though their interests and objectives are widely divergent.
Up until now, ten days into the standoff between the street and the regime, Israeli security-intelligence assistance has been advanced in three stages, some of which additionally address the Jewish state's own security concerns:
1. Jan 25-26
: On the first two days of the uprising, Israel responded to Gen. Suleiman's urgent request to lay on aerial intelligence from the main hubs of unrest in Cairo, Alexandria, Suez, Ismailia and other Delta locales such as Damanhour, Tanta, Mansoura and Kafr el-Sheikh. He also asked for coverage of the protesters' movements to and from Cairo and between the various cities.
During those 48 hours, Egyptian liaison officers took up position at the Egyptian embassy in Tel Aviv, which suddenly become the most heavily guarded building in Israel, after they were flown in by special plane. They were fed a constant stream of updates from Israeli surveillance aircraft hovering over the riot-ridden areas of Egypt. Those aircraft had landed secretly at Egyptian air bases with their identifying marks blanked out.
As a quid pro quo, Israel asked for the Egyptian vice president's permission for surveillance flights over Sinai to monitor the spread of Egyptian unrest into the peninsula and up to its borders with Israel and the Gaza Strip. After consulting Mubarak, he agreed.
Securing Suez Canal passage at both ends!
2. Jan. 26-27
: On the third and fourth days, the protest gained momentum and street battles spread to the cities on the Suez Canal banks – especially Suez and Ismailia, where rioters not only took over a number of neighborhoods but in the case of Suez, the entire city.
The fall of this main canal port of 750,000 inhabitants to the protesters alarmed Washington and Jerusalem.
They feared the army, its hands full with sending reinforcements to deal with the disturbances in Cairo and still greater violence in Alexandria and the Delta cities, would be short of the strength needed to recover control of Suez.
Leaving this key port under the control of the rioters would send shipping and maritime insurance costs sky high and play havoc with the world economy.
Israel's navy stepped into the breach by deploying missile ships and special raider forces the length of the Suez Canal to safeguard passing ships – a step synchronized with the US Navy and Air Force. The Sixth Fleet deployed the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise and its Strike Force at the Mediterranean exit of the Suez Canal.
The Israeli Navy was also entrusted with halting the passage of weapons and fighters from Egypt to Sinai and vice-versa. Our military sources report Israel diverted one of its military spy satellites from other parts of the Middle East to the Suez Canal area.
Bottling Hamas up in Gaza away from aiding Muslim Brotherhood!
3. Feb. 1: On the fifth day of the crisis, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak headed a special meeting of the Israeli security-political cabinet, with the participation of IDF and intelligence chiefs.
They met in the war room of the Southern Command, whose province includes the Gaza and Sinai fronts, after Israel had allowed Egyptian troops to enter Sinai for the first time since it was demilitarized under the 1979 peace treaty.
Two battalions of Egyptian Special Forces numbering about 1,000 troops had taken up position in the divided town of Rafah on the Egyptian-Gaza border and further south, at Sharm El-Sheik, not far from the point where the Gulf of Aqaba, the Red Sea and the Suez Canal converge.
At the same time, Israel strengthened the units guarding the Israel-Egyptian border from the Mediterranean in the North to Eilat on the Gulf of Aqaba in the south with tank and armored infantry brigades.
Egyptian-Israeli military and intelligence cooperation since the upheavals began in the Country of the Nile has two objectives: To draw a defensive line against Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda elements infiltrating Suez Canal cities while they are beleaguered by militant Egyptian protesters who occasionally seize control of city neighborhoods.
The other goal is to keep the armed men of the Hamas military wing, the Ezzedin al Qassam Brigades, from breaching the border from Gaza to Sinai, cutting west across the peninsula and, with the help of friendly smugglers, reaching the western bank of the Suez Canal and the Delta, to fight alongside the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.
In view, my brethren, of these events, it would seem to this ole man that THE HEBREW MESSIAH, my LORD AND SAVIOUR’s coming is certainly drawing nigh. One cannot read the book of Daniel, keeping one eye on events in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Jordan, Syria, Turkey, Lebanon and Gaza, without saying CERTAINLY HIS COMING MUST BE NIGH!
PRAY FOR THE PEACE OF JERUSALEM, PSALMS 122:6!
YEDIDIM OF ISRAEL
P.S. I don’t think I took my medicine yet today!