Yesterday, I wrote about the speech given by Iran’s President, Hassan Rowhani.
As I noted, Rowhani’s speech was eloquent, filled with noble overtones.
It was also comprised almost entirely of lies.
Iran represents much of what’s wrong with the Middle East.
But things are rapidly changing.
Historically, a division has fallen along the myriad of religious, ethnic and ideological lines – such as those existing between Sunni and Shiites (Shia).
Recently, the Middle East has found itself realigning dramatically, dividing itself between those regimes who support extremism and those who oppose it. The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), led by Saudi Arabia and Egypt, have chosen to stand against extremism. Iran – and Turkey – have chosen otherwise. Pakistan also falls into the latter camp – for now.
The changes have been forming for some time and showed themselves during President Trump’s historic Middle East trip. The changes were further exemplified when the GCC formally made their 13 demands of Qatar.
In a significantly under-reported development, the United States established its first permanent military base in Israel, located inside the Israeli Air Force’s Mashabim Air Base in the Negev Desert.
At the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Maj. Gen. John Gronski, deputy commander of US Army National Guard in Europe, said the facility “symbolizes the strong bond that exists between the United States and Israel. The United States and Israel have long planned together, exercised together and trained together. And now, with the opening of this site, these crucial interactions will happen every day.”
While largely symbolic at this point – only a few dozen American soldiers will live and work on the base immediately – the permanent installation is another illustration of the changes taking place in the Middle East.
It is almost without doubt that Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan had to give their unofficial blessing for this base to be established without undue turmoil. That’s change.
A significant figure in this sweeping level of change has been Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
Egypt’s President el-Sisi – also known as al-Sisi – has taken a courageous leadership role against extremism. In 2013, he dissolved the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood and ultimately pushed them out of the country. The Muslim Brotherhood fled Egypt and sought refuge in Qatar. President el-Sisi then placed pressure on Qatar – politically and through sanctions – in concert with other Arab nations, that forced Qatar into a reluctant 2014 agreement to deny overt refuge to the Muslim Brotherhood – which ultimately found sanctuary in Turkey. El-Sisi has kept up pressure to contain the Muslim Brotherhood within Turkish borders.
Egypt has paid a price for this leadership. It has become a target and has suffered a series of terrorist attacks. But el-Sisi has remained resolute.
Which is why this article from Sundance at The Conservative Treehouse caught my eye. The article discusses President Trump’s sideline meeting with President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority but then goes on to highlight many of the significant efforts made by Egypt’s el-Sisi. If you have not visited their site, please do so. From the Conservative Treehouse article:
Egyptian President al-Sisi already secured the Sinai border region. Under-reported in Western media, during the fall/winter of 2014 and spring/summer of 2015 al-Sisi removed every Hamas/Gaza tunnel and relocated thousands of homes to create a miles-wide buffer zone no longer useful by terrorists.
The scope of what Egypt did to secure the Southern and Eastern border of Israel/Gaza is quite remarkable, and they have paid a high price battling extremists every inch of the way.
Simultaneously, as his Egyptian forces were removing the most significant security threat, al-Sisi brokered a peace deal between Abbas and Netanyahu and forced the Palestinian Authority to speak with one voice. That’s why Egypt was so furious when John Kerry insisted on poking his nose into the agreement.
After the peace deal, and after he constructed the border security zone, Fattah al-Sisi then set up the construct for a Joint Arab Intervention Force. It was into this regional backdrop of ongoing activity that President Trump arrived, surreptitious timing.
More than any other Arab leader Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has led the way in confronting Islamic terrorism. It was President al-Sisi who exiled the Muslim Brotherhood and formed a coalition of Arab nations to confront the extremist elements promoting violence.
President al-Sisi’s call to confront extremism was joined by King Abdullah II (Jordan) in 2014; and that eventually led to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States uniting and forming an anti-extremism Arab coalition. [Backstory Here]
President al-Sisi delivered a 2015 New Year speech to the the most influential Islamic scholars and faith leaders calling upon internal reform to confront the radical elements within the Muslim faith. Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz honored President al-Sisi for his efforts at creating a stable coalition for peace just prior to his death a few weeks later in late January 2015.
After taking power in 2015 Saudi King Salman took up the cause for al-Sisi’s peace coalition, and that was the beginning of a series of events that culminated in this 2017 Arab Islamic American Summit. If regional peace is achieved, history will show how significant Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was in that result.
Since reluctantly taking power in 2013 Fatah al-Sisi has:
- Disbanded the Muslim Brotherhood as a political terror entity. (link) (link)
- Arrested those who burned churches and attacked Coptic Christians. (link) (link)
- Jailed or banished the extremist forces. (link)
- Supported Israel’s right to exist and defend it’s borders. (link) (link)
- Defeated Hamas in the border region. (link) (link)
- Destroyed the border terror tunnels used by Hamas (link) (link)
- Pressured Hamas and the PA to negotiate the ceasefire, and forced the PA and Hamas to assemble ONE negotiating group for their interests. (link) (link)
- Fought extremism in the Sinai region, and fought against ISIS infiltration.
- Fought the Libyan new al-Qaeda network “Libyan Dawn”. (link)
- Charged and prosecuted the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood, who fled to Qatar. (link)
- Followed the MB to Qatar and initiated sanctions against Qatar until they stopped financing and harboring terror. (link)
- Formed a coalition against Qatar including the UAE and Saudi Arabia who withdrew their ambassadors and isolated Qatar in the region. (link) (link)
- Won reelection with almost 70% of the vote. (link) (link ) (link)
- Holds an 80%+ job approval rating among ALL Egyptians. (link)
- Shut down Qatar financed Al Jazerra propaganda machine. (link)
- Supported the framework for a new constitution which supports minority protections. (link)
- Won a victory against Qatar as they finally conceded and stopped safeguarding terrorists. Sending the MB leadership to the new safe harbor of Turkey. (link)
- United the moderate (non violent) Arab coalition, the Gulf Security Council, and constructed a unity principle that supports the safety of Jordan and formed a coalition to defend if needed. (link)
- Faced down and quietly defeated Turkey’s bid for a security council seat in the United Nations. (link) (link)
- Negotiated a safe passage coalition for Israel and Greece to form an energy based economic trade agreement.
- Continues to fight the Islamist extremists inside Libya. (link) (link)
- Continues to fight ISIS in the Northern Sinai region. (link) (link) (link)
- Expanded the border safety zone with Gaza to insure greater control and protection from weapons smuggling. (link)
These efforts, and specifically the removal of the Gaza ‘terror tunnels’, are what has eventually led to Hamas acquiescing to the political representation of President Abbas.
While Egypt does not have the financial strength of Saudi Arabia, President el-Sisi does have their support. The significance of his leadership in the middle East is difficult to overstate. His achievements and the scope of what he has accomplished has been woefully under-reported or distorted.
Events in the Middle East continue to evolve faster that we are aware. Keep a strong eye on this region of the world as developments are occurring daily.
I have said it many times before. I will say it again. Much remains to be done, but I have never been this optimistic regarding the future of the Middle East.
older post The Iranian President’s UN Speech of Lies