Barry Rubin Egypt


The Egyptian blogger, Sandmonkey, has been a cause célèbre on the internet for some time now, bravely offering his views on Middle East issues, liberalism, Egyptian politics and the oppression of the government on its people including the persecution of the Copt minority. Sandmonkey has every right to hope for something better to lie just around the corner, after being oppressed by the Mubarak regime, (he’s had his site taken down back in 2007) who could really blame him? Surely not the Tundra Tabloids.

That said, there has to be a modicum of caution and careful reading of the situation, which at the moment, seems to have been tossed to the side by Sandmonkey. Once again, he has every right to pronounce his views, it’s understandable, but the TT isn’t convinced by his argumentation, and neither is Barry Rubin, who has as much respect for this brave guy as do I, but nonetheless, Sandmonkey’s views concerning a post-Mubarak Egypt have to be addressed.

UPDATE: Sultan Knish has a different opinion of Sand Monkey, and the TT has to admit that he’s got a valid point that was overlooked here. According to the Sultan, Sand Monkey is somewhat the Egyptian version of Curveball.

Barry Rubin does just that:

Egypt: The Most Moderate Democracy Advocate Speaks And Says A Lot

There is no more courageous, sincere, and moderate person in Egypt than the blogger who is known as Sandmonkey. He faced serious harassment under the Mubarak regime and is a big supporter of the democracy movement in his country.

It is interesting to examine some of his recent tweets. I have fixed spelling, put them into paragraphs, and added capitalization but been careful not to alter any of the meaning. My responses are in bold:

“Ok, just so we can calm the nerves of our Israeli twitchy neighbors, let me assure you: we aren’t going go to war with you. The Egyptian army and economy are both not equipped for such battles and we have too many targets for your air force to hit. However, we do have numerical superiority and no fear of death and we can draw this out forever, so don’t think you’re all that [?] either.”

I think his point about war being unlikely, during the next several years, is probably correct, though an Egyptian government can miscalculate–as happened in 1967–and set off a conflict. His last sentence, though, is a reminder that even he might not be entirely sure of peace being durable.

“But there are 3 things you can expect [to] change, and they shouldn’t allow them to alarm you. They have to happen. OK?

“1) The Rafah gate [to the Gaza Strip] will be opened for goods and travel. It will relieve the situation, improve the economy & give us leverage over Hamas. And it will also end the talk about “Gaza under siege” and you know that this is good for you even. Don’t fight it.

Israel won’t fight Egypt’s opening to Gaza because there is nothing Israel can do about it. Personally, I don’t think Egypt is going to have any leverage over Hamas. The Mubarak government tried for many years and couldn’t get either Hamas or the Palestinian Authority to do anything. If there’s a Brotherhood-dominated government, Egypt will become an ally of Hamas; if there’s a radical nationalist government it will be friendly to Hamas and the Brotherhood will smuggle in huge amounts of arms. The idea that this is good for Israel is quite questionable.

“2) You will start paying market price for our gas. Maybe even a markup. You’ve been getting it cheap & we could use the money.”

In principle, that’s ok but two points: First, it sets a bad precedent for the new Egyptian government not feeling itself bound by previous agreements. Second, I think that what will happen (and of course I could be wrong) is that whoever is in power the pipeline will be sabotaged and attacked until it is put out of commission. As we’ve seen before with Arab governments, money isn’t everything especially when it clashes with demagoguery.

Read the rest here.

5 Responses

  1. Most Israelis do not wish Egypt any harm. Moreover, I think sandmonkey underestimates Israel’s self-confidence. I did not find Israelis particularly nervous or “twitchy” about events in Egypt when I was there a couple of weeks ago.

    I think it’s time I remind TT readers that there is a multi-national peacekeeping force in the Sinai led by the United States. This is NOT a UN force as the authors of the Egypt/Israel peace treaty were keenly aware of the UN’s failures of the past. Moreover, the Sinai is demilitarized and the Egyptians can’t get a sizable force across it in time to surprise attack Israel. Plus, the Egyptian army would have to run over the US peacekeeping force. As such, I’m not worried about the Egypt/Israel treaty breaking down completely. The authors were keenly aware that regime change was a probability in Egypt. One regime change took place long ago with the assassination of Anwar Sadat. The peace treaty survived.

    That being said, I see no reason why the U.S. peacekeepers in the Sinai should not be held accountable for arms flow into Gaza. It’s time for Americans to address this issue with OUR government.

    On another note, I am very disturbed by the portrayal of the Ikhwan in the U.S. media as some kind of Islamic version of the Salvation Army. Last night, Mrs. TINSC were watching PBS and noted that they were talking about all the wonderful charitable “work” the Ikhwan does and never mentioned their history of alliance with Nazi Germany, Haj Amin Al-Husseini, and the murder of Anwar Sadat. In my view, this is deliberate dis-information. What’s interesting to observe is that in spite of the quantity of this kind of dis-information, the American public continues to see through it. As Arab regimes once though stable are now shown otherwise, I think there is a new appreciation for Israeli democracy and alliance with the United States. At the end of the day, no matter which Arab regime aligns itself with the U.S., there is only one country in the Middle East that is a perpetual ally of the United States; Israel.

  2. Quote:”However, we do have numerical superiority and no fear of death and we can draw this out forever, so don’t think you’re all that [safe?] either.”

    He is right. Muslim soldiers will throw their lives away even when it is clear they are going to be slaughtered, as Islam guarantees them a place in paradise for fighting in the cause of allah and jihad. This is the kind of fatalism that Churchill noticed and commented on.

    However, that very fatalism is the undoing of Muslims armies when things start to go disastrously wrong. Then the rumour or the cry sweeps through the ranks that “This war is not the will of allah”, and “we can never win if allah has not willed it”. The ranks then start to throw their weapons away and stream back to their homes, even on foot if necessary.

  3. I’m disappointed that Sandmonkey used “We” in “However, we do have numerical superiority and no fear of death and we can draw this out forever…”

    Preferably he should have been a little more detached.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.