Mahmoud Sabit at PostGlobal

Mahmoud Sabit

Cairo, Egypt

Mahmoud Sabit is a historian and an authority on Egypt’s 19th century political reforms. Sabit also works as a writer and producer of historical documentaries. Close.

Mahmoud Sabit

Cairo, Egypt

Mahmoud Sabit is a historian and an authority on Egypt’s 19th century political reforms. more »

Main Page | Mahmoud Sabit Archives | PostGlobal Archives

Lest We Forget Al Qaeda

Cairo, Egypt - The significance of this latest terrorist plot is in its timing. Hezbollah's successful efforts at confronting and surviving Israel's military onslaught in Lebanon over the past six weeks has provoked Al Qaeda to attempt to divert attention...

» Back to full entry

All Comments (25)


the Muses! And there goes the venerable Thibaut taking his evening
dfas mil mypay*
find however that as I grow older I love the country less and

foro qcuz:

And her bosom snowy whte dot
prodotti tipico*
And rested panting arm in arm


Three figures dressed in black now came from one of the green
ask jolene*
The same as ever my dear Baron dot It is astonishing how he holds

google l:

perishilton ]peris hilton


I feel like the crisis of middle east and terrorism in the world is due to dictators in the middle east. One of them is Hosni Mobarik. I am not sure if Mr. Sabit would be freely able to admit this. Those dictators has supressed the moderates which gave rise to organizations like Alqaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah and Taliban. Most of the dictators are under the influence of the west because that is their only base of support. In return they sign on to the policies which are not approved by the people. People tend to support militants out of furustration. It will be really useful if the writer can write an honest article about to what extend dictator ship in Egypt is the major cause of terrorism in the region and the world.


pkafin says:
"Today there are over 1 million Muslim Israeli citizens who are considered entirely equal under the law to all other citizens."

I am not an Arab but I understand that Israeli Jews can have second nationality (passport) but if a Muslim citizen of Israel obtains a second nationality or passport, his Israel citizenship is revoked. Is it true? If yes, what kind of equality is this? I will be interested to read your excuses for this. :)

Jonathan Morales:

Forgive me if I repeat a comment made in an early post; I have yet to read them all in depth.

Firstly, I'd like to thank Mr. Sabit for pointing out the sectarian 'rivalry' amongst Muslims themselves, i.e., the affiliations of both Hezbollah and Al Qaeda and how they indeed have an effect on their wars against the west. I'd like to point out, as an American, that we often throw around phrases like 'sectarian violence,' yet at the same time, almost completely ignore the vendetta, so to say, between Shia'a and Sunni communities. So although it may be an almost too obvious question to answer, I think it is both relevant and thoughtful for Mr. Sabit to distinguish the agendas of both parties and then continue by discussing the significance of the timing.

I'd also like to thank Mr. Sabit for his commentary on British Muslims, and their experiences under a democratic government. Indeed, we often debate the treatment of Muslims from the standpoint of the 'historically oppressed,' citing examples such as massacres during the crusades and inquisitions, but fail to emphasize what Muslims who enjoy the freedoms of representative government saw in their lifetimes. Although the current situation in the Middle East reflects the massive failure in foreign policy since the end of World War I and the fall of the Ottoman Empire, I think that in this situation it is especially important that we consider specifically what the terrorists in question saw.

Mahmoud Sabit:

Scott Heber
An interesting perspective; terrorism defeated through good police work, jail all perps, and presto no problem. The problem with terrorism is that these are political crimes, crimes based on ideological ideas, and ideas are difficult to suppress. Equally powerful ideas must be used to first refute them, and then defeat them. Just the facts Ma'am may well work on 'Dragnet' in TV land but when faced with ideologically committed terrorists. Its like fighting a hydra, growing more heads every time you cut one head off, they feed off your reactions, are able to recruit more volunteers the harsher your methods become, they thrive off your reactions, until finally they overwhelm you through sheer critical mass. A good case in point is Iraq, where the occupation dealt with any resistance harshly, where they applied the same police principals, similar to the ones you advocate. Every time the occupation suppressed any outbreak of terrorism, more volunteers appeared; they regenerated themselves as a result of occupation reaction, and the unwillingness of the occupation to address their grievances. Today, the situation in Iraq is uncontrollable.
For political crimes such as terrorism defeating their root cause is the most effective way, remedying the reasons that such terrorism exists, works. Because terrorism is a symptom, a reaction, not an action, remove the reasons for the reaction, and you are on your way. In the case of Timothy McVeigh obviously his views and the reasons that he committed terrorists acts received no popular consensus, otherwise police actions would not have worked, in the case of Iraq, obviously the terrorism has support, has consensus, therefore what is the reason that they have support? Because without that support, terrorism of the intensity of the Iraq example would just wither.

I wrote outlining what I believed were the root causes as to why such terrorism is occurring in this instance. I wrote this as part of a debating process, the process wherein hypotheses can be developed, and this relies on a thesis and an anti-thesis, I am providing an anti-thesis, not as incitement to terrorist actions, but rather an anti-thesis that may help in providing a hypothesis to solving the issue. A debate is a process by which those who want to be part of a solution discuss the issues openly, by avoiding the issues altogether one is merely becoming part of the problem.

Mahmoud Sabit:

Chris Diver
It's a very good point, would a growing Islamic militancy make it impossible for reconciliation between the Arabs and Muslims with Israel. I think in the forceable future that is not the case. There are two constants in this situation; the first is that Israel is in the Middle East to stay, but they also have to realize this small fact, they are here, and not elsewhere, the Arabs and Muslims are also here, and they are not going anywhere else soon. Historically the Western world was hostile to Jewry in its midst, they perpetrated pogroms and mercilessly persecuted them for centuries. A state of affairs that culminated in the industrialized horror of Hitler's death camps. Until WWII persecution of one kind or another against the Jews in Europe was more the rule rather the exception. By contrast in the Muslim world this was not the case, that there was persecution is true, but this was more the exception and not the rule. Philosophically and to some extent religiously the Jews and the Moslems are almost fellow travelers, the flowering of culture and philosophy of Jewry in Muslim lands is a well documented fact, the Crusaders I might add made no such distinction, they exterminated Muslims and Jews with equal fervor. Which essentially meant that the Jews in the Holy Land during the Crusades fought on the side of the Muslims, a case in point is the siege of Caesarea in Palestine in about 1101. The inquisition developed in Spain to root out religious deviance was designed not just against the Jews but also against the much more numerous 'secret' Muslims. Jews in Egypt did not live in ghettos, but were integrated at every level of society, from Pasha's to street hawkers, the fundamental issue of the Arab Israeli dispute did not start as a religious confrontation, but was based on a political dispute over land, and the injustice perpetrated against the inhabitants of that land. The Arab failure in the 1948 War resulted in a reaction led by xenophobic nationalist figures who deposed the existing regimes, which in turn led to the expulsion of foreign business interests, the ruin of the Egyptian bourgeoisie, and the eventual persecution of the Jewish population, who emigrated in large numbers; this was in the late 1950's so actually quite recent history. My point is that there really is no historic enmity; the present situation is based directly on the foundation of the State of Israel in 1948. Ultimately for the sake of mutual survival the Arabs and Muslims have to become the best friends of Israel, and conversely the Israeli's have to do the same.
The other constant is that only the United States has the influence necessary to bring about a peaceful settlement in the Middle East.

Mahmoud Sabit:

Thank you Mr. Zathras for your comment; Egypt has a responsibility for ensuring a stable situation in the Sudan, one; it is on its southern borders, and secondly it is the former colonial power in the Sudan. It held that position within the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium of the Sudan from 1898 until Sudan achieved independence in the 1950's. There is also the fact that many Egyptians have a Sudanese connection, including former President Anwar el Sadat, whose mother was Sudanese. Briefly Egypt's position in regards Darfur is to attempt to solve this crisis with the existing parties without outside intervention, we have seen how ill-conceived interventions can develop into quagmires, and nightmares for all of the local population, not just those from Darfur. Egyptian policy is not to advocate 'regime change' it prefers to work within the existing system, and effect change from above rather than change from below with its unforeseen and unintended consequences, which could well emerge if the government falls and a whole set of other problems emerge. If this differs from the opinions expressed, by other parties whose frontiers do not border the Sudan, this does not mean that they are assisting the local government in a genocide. Egypt is already playing host to several million refugees from several conflicts in sub-Saharan Africa, a situation which adds to Egypt's serious existing demographic problems. Egypt is not interested in having even more refugees arriving as a result of misconceived policies in the Sudan, any flawed policies that they would implement would also result in that happening. Therefore Egypt prefers to tread carefully. Part of your comment seemed to suggest that 'Arab' Muslims harbor racist tendencies to Muslims of another color, this is quite inaccurate. Islam is not an ethnic condition, if anything it is based on a multi-ethnic uni-culture, Muslims are far less preoccupied with the color of a persons skin and concentrate more on the color of a persons heart. In the case of Egypt, if you look at the personalities who were heads of state from 1936 - 1982, one would find that there are three heads of state; King Farouk, who was white and had blue eyes, President Gamal Abdel Nasser who was more what is termed in the West 'Middle Eastern' looking, and President Anwar el Sadat who was black. I did not even consciously realize that until I read an interview with President Jimmie Carter, who characterized Anwar el Sadat as a 'black man' Personally I never noticed. The comments of Malcolm X following his travels in the Middle East in the early 1960's in the biography by Alex Halley would confirm this point as well. In short Egypt has a vested interest in ending the crisis situation in the Darfur, because of the direct causes their country would face it this situation is allowed to worsen.

Scott Heber:

Interesting article on terrorists motives. I have many friends that express the same views -- most tend to be tainted with anti-western and definitely anti-Isreali bias. Fortunately for Americans, we have seen terrorism here grown locally, have seen its causes, and the recipe to stop it. When the FBI building in Oklahoma City was bombed in 1994, there were many important factors that were clearly behind the bombing. However, Americans did not dwell on "why" poor disaffected militia types would resort to such a thing. We did not try to "put ourselves in their shoes". We also did not try to understand the "obvious injustices" that the Federal Government of the United States of America must have committed in order for this to come to pass. Instead we concentrated on two things: first the groups of fanatics were infiltrated and destroyed; and, second, and most important, the cultural soil that this terrorist "plant" was growing in was destroyed. What do I mean by that last one? Well, if you remember the early 90's -- at the time there was a lot of talk about how terrible the Federal Government was, and about how it trampled the people's freedom and how it was in some cases evil. This characterization gave strength and comfort to the voilent crazies in the militias -- it created a cultural environment where they could feel good about themselves and receive support (hell, they could be heros!). Well, after the bombing, the Republicans (who had overplayed the evil federal gov't bit) had to backtrack a bit on the rhetoric. The whole country's culture basically said, "we will not give you intellectual solace for these dispicable deeds". The intellectual resistance to militia members and people who thought like them was extremely high.

So basically the Federal Gov't did not change, but the culture of the USA changed to destroy the terrorist bacteria that had begun to grow.

Terrorism grows in the Middle East because of an abundance of cultural and moral support. But, it is not only the Middle Eastern culture. Do the British think that the intellectual climate of "Bush is EVIL" and the "USA is EVIL" will not give solace and fortitude to the would-be voilent Muslim militants in their midst? (The answer is: of course it does!)

Change the culture that encourages and supports these acts of terror. This is exactly what must be done in the Middle East.

It seems to me, conversely, the more Mr. Sabit helps to explain the motives of the terrorists, the more they are probably encouraged.

Mahmoud Sabit:

Thanks for your observations; the grievances that I mention are quite general, and would be reflected in any opinion poll in the Middle East and Moslem world. I remember in the mid-1990's visiting a small dusty provincial capital in the Egyptian countryside and seeing posters asking for donations for the Bosnian Muslims, and next to them other posters advocating that; 'Islam is the Answer.' I remember a conversation with the 'Omda' (village Mayor) of a hamlet about 100 km south of Cairo, away from any main road, and he was telling me about the stupendous victory won by the Chechen resistance over the Russian military machine in 1995, and how God gave them that victory. These were remote places but these people were quite aware of events affecting fellow Muslims in geographically distant regions. There is also the recent letter by Muslim MP's in Britain which suggested that the British Government should review their policies in the Middle East, which they believe is radicalizing their constituents. I am not pretending to speak on their behalf, there are dots, and perhaps I am connecting them in a different way than you are familiar with, it is I think important that these issues are properly aired, and they have merit. It is how the situation is perceived.
Very briefly Egypt's position in regards Darfur is to attempt to solve this crisis with the existing parties without outside intervention, such outside intervention as witnessed in Iraq, and in various other places is hardly cause for any encouragement that it can be successful. It's a bit like trying to keep the bull from entering the china shop. The fact that this opinion differs from that of yourself or Mr. Zathras is hardly cause for implying that Egypt is a co-conspirator in a genocide. It is a complex issue, involving political military and economic aspects and should be addressed in far more detail.
In the Middle East, the talks floundered on details as you indicate, but the details were quite minor, and the issue is solvable, the differences are not so great as is assumed. The suggestion is that the onus is on the Palestinians to make the sacrifices, they have not any more sacrifices to give; that is the point. At the moment that they have less than nothing, and they have given all they can. One of the big pieces of disinformation that is constantly being resurrected in the US press is that the 1956 and 1967 wars were fought in defense of Israel's survival, that Israel was about to be attacked, and that this land, that was conquered in the 1967 war is required by Israel to ensure their 'security.' This is just not true; the 1956 war was a blatant aggression by Britain, France and Israel in collusion on Egypt. The 1967 war began after the crisis had been defused, the Egyptians had no intentions of invading Israel, in fact their army of 90,000 men in Sinai at the time was hardly adequate to challenge Israel's military of 400,000 men. Even with the contributions of Jordan and Syria, they still could not match the Israeli military, in numbers alone. There certainly was a crisis, completely mis-judged by President Gamal Abdel Nasser who thought he could intimidate Israel, and gain political advantage within the Arab world, there were not even military plans for offensive action, and the Egyptian army in Sinai was deployed in a purely defensive posture. The following statements from Israeli leaders actually confirm this;

Rabin was quoted in Le Monde, February 29, 1968, as saying, "I do not think Nasser wanted war. The two divisions he sent to the Sinai in May [1967] would not have been sufficient to launch an offensive against Israel. He knew it and we knew it." On August 8, 1982, Prime Minister Begin made a speech saying, "In June, 1967, we again had a choice. the Egyptian army concentrations in the Sinai did not prove that Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him" (New York Times, August 21, 1982).
I am bringing this up to point out that the Palestinian territories on the West Bank and the Syrian territories on the Golan Heights were conquered by Israel in aggressive war, and aggressive war should not be rewarded, otherwise, we shall, in international affairs be governed by the rule of the jungle. UN resolution 242 directly addressed this, and this should be the basis under which a definitive peace is established. In 1956 Ben Gurion categorically refused to withdraw from Sinai, the Israeli population were also in consensus, he was compelled to withdraw from Sinai by US actions and threats given by the Eisenhower administration, for the very fact that this territory had been conquered by aggressive war. If today there are small details, then frankly the parties should just have to compromise, by coercion if necessary bearing in mind that the Palestinians have little left to give. Hamas is a symptom of Palestinian desperation, if they are able to obtain a Palestinian state, and Hamas continues to take maximalist postures, it is difficult to see how they would survive a Palestinian election, the Palestinians themselves have lived with this situation for 60 years, it is improbable that they would continue to agree with Hamas for another sixty years, especially after gaining the West Bank and Gaza as a Palestinian homeland. The Jihadist death cult uses methods which are completely counter-productive as you refer, and certainly I am not justifying them, on the contrary their agenda threatens those of us living in the Middle East far more than yourselves. It must also be stated that it has also grown as a result of a series of issues, not just Palestine, although Palestine is high on their causus belli. Much of it is also a reaction to an ideological failure of modern Muslim nationalism in general, a failure in safeguarding local nationalist economic and strategic interest, and the sheer social and economic inequality that pervade many of the countries in the Arab and Muslim world. The west is perceived as both a co-conspirator and abettor with these regimes, their support of local dictatorial governments is also a recruiting theme. Solving the Palestinian Israeli dispute would lance much of the venom that these extremists thrive on, and would go a long way in rendering them moot. The rest, containing terrorism and defeating these other causes must be addressed through reforms within these Muslim societies, but reforms based on more home grown solutions rather than solutions imposed from outside. The Neo-Cons had a point, their strategy had merit, their tactics and the way they went about imposing their opinion were not sound, and have exacerbated matters. Especially after allowing the Palestinian Israeli dispute to fester, the policies that any new administration in the US adopts in this dispute is a litmus test of how an administration in the Middle East is viewed, will it be even handed or unjust? This translates into a reaction when the US intervenes, their motives are considered flawed.

Mahmoud Sabit:

Thank you for your views; There are several answers to the question of why these people would resort to atrocity rather than some more reasonable process with which to advance their views. I quite agree that British Muslims should be more engaged in their own political process in the UK to change their governments policies, they actually have that option, it would be a more intelligent approach. Those who have been involved is such activities in the past seem to be of a second generation of South West Asians; born and educated in the UK and should be more familiar with a democratic process. One could perhaps say that their reasons have also to do with the fact that they have been discriminated against in their own country, that they feel alienated, that they believe they are really not accepted and full integrated, that they have limited career opportunities, and limited prospects. In addition to this they were very aware of the Bosnian War, where a population in Europe was slaughtered for adhering to the Muslim faith, a population that had hitherto been fully integrated in Yugoslavia, a population that was not really all that religious anyway, rather Islam in Yugoslavia was more of a nationality within their federation. The US did very commendably intervene in that conflict and end the slaughter, the point is the Europeans should have done this themselves, and had several years opportunity, instead they suggested the Lord Owen Report which generally advised that the Muslims surrender to the tender mercies of Serbian nationalism. One should not be all that surprised if a large Muslim population in Britain would not feel threatened by the prospects of a virulent nationalism in Euro-land.
The other point for the reason they may have turned to such Jihadist indoctrination is that they were not all that familiar with the basic tenets of their own faith, and Muslim history in general. The AQ Jihadist ideology is based on a narrow interpretation, more of a Wahhaby interpretation of Islam. An interpretation that was itself considered a Muslim deviance by the Ottoman Caliphate in the 19th Century. There are Muslim Juridical decisions in this regard arrived at by the Ulema and the official religious scholars of the period. These were not self styled Imams issuing fatwas like confetti, as we see today, rather the Ulema (Muslim Supreme Court judges) of the Ottoman Caliphate were Doctors of Islamic jurisprudence with 1200 years of legal precedent behind them. Many were scholars from the Hijaz (Arabia before it became Saudi-Arabia) many others were trained at the Azhar, in Cairo the main centre of learning for Sunni Islam. Even today, Wahhabism is a very peripheral interpretation, limited in scope within the Muslim world. It is also for this reason that the AQ vision of establishing a modern Caliphate is quite ironic. The problem is that this message; the idea of a Caliphate has resonance, but frankly few in the Moslem world would want a Caliphate led by an AQ ideology, although western mismanagement of policies in reference to the Moslems could well change this. The real debate is about the idea of Westernization vs. Modernization, where the west with its local sympathizers is perceived to be attempting to force feed its own vision arrived at through their own experience, on a traditional Muslim society, with different analogies and a different history. The modernizers are not a monolithic movement, they include reformers with an agenda for representational government, through the many shades of grey to also include the Wahhabies at the other extreme, and AQ is the most extreme view within Wahhabism. As for the Iraq exclusion zone and the UN sanctions, these were very detrimental to the Iraqi people, certainly exacerbated by Saddam Hussein, but still they caused untold hardship, a different policy would perhaps have been more advisable. The problem for the west in its policies towards the Muslim world is more in line with when to intervene and when not to meddle. Understanding the difference.

Mahmoud Sabit:

Your point is well taken, we are not sure who exactly was involved in the London Plot. On the whole AQ has been acting like a franchise, where cells have formed and acted and been ideologically inspired by the AQ message, but have little direct contact with them. In this case there seems to have been quite a bit of money spent on the 'operation' and there has also been extensive contact with extremists in Pakistan in the planning, it also has the modus operandi of AQ, ergo logic can allows us to make an informed assumption that it is AQ, and probably financed, and ordered by them. For those of us living in the Middle East what AQ says and does has a direct relevance, therefore it is important that we understand and attempt to reach and make the proper analysis. AQ consider the governments in the Middle East and any that do not adhere to their narrow philosophy are their main target. The long term agenda of AQ is to provoke civil insurrection in the Arab countries, that would bring them into power, into controlling these countries, into liquidating any elements that does not totally agree with their narrow extremist view. Therefore the point of view here expressed is really not concerned with feeling important or allowing oneself to be empty headed, the situation is much too serious for any such irrelevant intention. As for confronting terrorism, the only kryptonite suggested here is really, really addressing the issues and grievances of the region.

Chris Diver:

Mr Sabit,

My concern is that Hezbollah has now shown the Arab world twice that it can undermine the Israeli army, meaning that, for the first time, an indigenous, Arab means has been found to undo the regional control of the Middle East by Western powers. Why would Islamic militants stop in the pursuit of this objective given the dreadful history of actions by the West you detail above? The excitement at seeming to have found the key to change their history must be tremendous.

Also, as someone who lives in the U.S., I see how easy it has been for our national leaders to play on American fears about the Middle East. Politically speaking, American grasp of and response to the root causes of Arab hostility toward us doesn't

Furthermore, the Israelis seem incapable of seeing that if they had rapidly returned the land they gained after the 1967 war, and developed humane relations with the Palesinians, they could have saved themselves decades of killing and being
killed. They seem farther then ever from this kind of perception and action today.

Therefore, while I agree about the need for a peaceful settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, I wonder if it is too late because of the growing effectiveness of Islamic militancy and the inability of Israel and the U.S. to see just accommodation as anything other then an impossible loss of control.


You are certainly right, Sama, as is Mr. Samit, that Iraq and Palestine are injustices that are important to the jihadists and their communities. To hopefully better state my point: I don't think it is safe to assume that the jihadists are like the rest of their community, share the same aims, but angrier than most to the point of taking violent action. Clearly they hold other aims that most Muslims don't, like re-establishing the Caliphate and implementing shari`a. These are not simply eccentric deviations from their main grievances, they are part and parcel of an ideology they have come to believe in and are aims as central to them as driving American forces out of Iraq. Solving issues like the Palestine Israel conflict would mean that global Muslim anger would be reduced and that there might be fewer applicants for kamakazi missions, but I don't think it would make the problem go away. Many of these kamakazi attackers have pretty comfortable lives and are not acting out of rage and despair the way a Gaza refugee might. Muhammad Atta was well educated and could have had a comfortable middle class life. Part of the appeal is radical chic, much as it was for the Baader-Meinhof Gang or the Red Brigades in the seventies, the alure of playing a central role in a historic, and gloriously violent global struggle. To say that their grievances are the same as those of moderate Muslims, and that a political compormise is going to solve the issue is to miss a crucial dimension of the problem of terrorism.

Sama Adnan:

I think Mr. Sabit's assessment of the causes of terror is on the mark. Opinion polls conducted in the Middle East clearly show that hostility to the West stems from the West's foreign policy of aiding dictators and biased support to Israel. Other polls, conducted by Zogby International, clearly showed that in the 2004 American Presidential elections Muslim and Arab Americans placed the conflicts of Iraq and Palestine in the top 3 issues most dear to them. Similarly mass protests by Muslim goups in Europe, especially in Britain, prior to the invasion of Iraq, during the second Palestinian Intifada and the aggressive Israeli response, and lately in the Lebanon crisis, point to the fact that Western Muslims are closely aware of the relationship between their adopted homes and their ancesteral homes.

It is clear that it takes a criminal mindset to opt to burn one's compatriots in protest instead of engaging politically to change attitudes and foreign policy. It may be more expedient to blow up a building than to change the makeup of the US Senate. However, the anger that makes the job of Al-Qaeda recruiters so easy is also the anger that percolates throughout the Middle East and, indeed, the Muslim world. This tide of anger must be stemmed by rectifying long-standing and simmering conlicts, especially the Israeli-Palestinian one.


This column starts with some interesting obeservations about the rivalry between al-Qa`ida and Hizbullah, but beyond that I think Mr. Sabit turns to expressing his grievances as though they were unquestionably identical with those of the the men just arrested in Britain before blowing themselves up in transatlantic jetliners. Do we really know what it was that led them to take the turn they did? Can anyone point to interviews with suicide bombers and their close supporters in which they talk candidly about their grievances and agenda? I don't doubt that there is some overlap between their worldview and that of Mr. Sabit, but I think it is a bit presumptuous of him to assume that he can speak for them.

And his assessment of the root causes is open to some questions that previous posters have raised. Mr. Sabit writes suggests that it is insulting to ask that Egypt break international treaties and intervene in the Sudan where some 200,000 have been killed while criticizing Europe for not having broken international treaties and intervening in Bosnia where some 200,000 were killed. Could he explain how Egypt's position is justifiable while Europe's in the early 90's was a flagrant root cause of today's Middle Eastern rage? All solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict flounder on the details. What solution does Mr. Sabit think should be imposed on the parties? Wouldn't it help the cause of parties to the conflict such as Hizbullah and Hamas if their starting position were not that the state of Israel should be destroyed (a deferred destruction in the case of Hamas, after their "hudna" expires at some point in the future)? And as another reader pointed out above, there are innumerable ways of trying to bring about political change nationally and internationally. Does Mr. Sabit suggest that a psychopathic death cult was an inevitable response to the current situation? Does this strike him as a tad counterproductive?

The Neocons pointed to the current crisis in the Middle East and found their own root causes that they set out to solve in Iraq: economic, social, political, and cultural stagnation. For all that these are very real conditions in the region, the Neocons clearly misidentified the correct solution and certainly engaged in a good deal of projection when it came to identifying the correct root. Mr. Sabit seems to be doing the same. It would be nice to see action on many of the issues he identifies, but I don't think we can simply assume that he has correctly identified the underlying motives of the would-be martyrs.


Important insights, especially with respect to the competitive interplay between Hezbollah and Al Qaeda. I have no doubt that perceived flaws in western (esp British/American) foreign policy have been exploited to recruit for AQ in Britain and elsewhere.

But acknowledging this doesn't explain why those thus recruited fail to pursue satisfaction through democratic reform (persuasion, voting, etc.) rather than counterproductive violence. It doesn't explain how recruits can perceive the murder of civilians as ethical. It doesn't come to grips with countervailing facts, such as evidence that western governments learned from mistakes in Bosnia and sought to protect hundreds of thousands of Bosnian Muslims from Serbia through a costly war, or protect Muslims in Iraq from Saddam Hussein through the no-fly zones (an historically imperfect but not evil foreign policy record).

It also doesn't provide context for the core theological and geopolitical messages that AQ recruiter/preachers are peddling, viz. the re-establishment of a 7th-11th century style expansive, fundamentalist caliphate. Why is that message attractive in the modern world?

I'm not opposed to identifying and addressing root causes, but I suspect the root causes are in the failings of the terrorists and would-be terrorists, and not principally in western culture, business, scholarship, or government. The view that we have met the enemy and he is us leads to introspective and self-hating solipsism that, I think, is highly unlikely to solve our current challenge from islamo-fascism.

sven hedin:

German Forces will engage in Beyrouth to secure
Lebanon's borders. Leopard_II tanks will dancing
around the Litani river. You can hear already the
classical Vienna Walzers as the current general
secretary of Nato with a sharp eye to Lt. General Jones[U.S. Army Chief of Staff], Hoop de Scheffer, recently said. Preparations in Germany are on the
way to receive the green lights from the Supreme
Court in Karlsruhe and the majority support in the
parliament( Reichstag at Berlin ) as a winning coalition.
It follows a liberal note to the German Liberal Party:
Es scheint bei der F.D.P bald Liberalismus Einzug zu halten.
A) mindestens 4 Milliarden Iran-Investitionen stehen auf
dem Spiel. Diese gehen ohne einen
Litani-Einsatz der Bundeswehr
verloren. B) Ein F.D.P.-Eintritt
in die Regierung beginnt durch einen starken Wiederauftritt in der Aussenpolitik. Cheney will eine westliche Wirtschaftsweise
im Mittleren Osten einführen. Ohne
die deutschen Liberalen wird er
dort definitif scheitern. Wir
sollten dort unsereren deutschen
Vertrauensvorteil bei Schiiten voll auspielen. Niemand wird bestreiten, dass wir bei den
Arabern besser als die U.S. Corporations im Rennen liegen.


The author writes, "The situation in the Middle East has been allowed to fester for almost sixty years where a whole predominantly Muslim people were ethnically cleansed from their ancestral homeland."

This is nonsense.

The Muslims who didn't leave their homes in 1948 became Israeli citizens. Some 20% of Israeli citizens today are Muslim. The Muslims who lived in what should have become Palestine (Gaza and the West Bank) didn't have to go anywhere in 1948.

Today there are over 1 million Muslim Israeli citizens who are considered entirely equal under the law to all other citizens. There are 1.4 million Muslims in Gaza (and 0 Jews). There are another 2+ million in the West Bank; living where they have for centuries.

Who is this "whole predominantly Muslim people" that was "ethnically cleansed from their ancestral homeland"?


I thank Mr. Sabit for his response, and agree with him that Darfur is worthy of a separate discussion in this forum. Accordingly I will defer detailed comments on the subject.

However, I will note that his remarks about Egypt declining to take the path of military adventurism are somewhat less than relevant to my point about his government's support of the Khartoum regime's refusal to accept a UN peacekeeping force in Darfur. Egypt does, as far as I know, support a peacekeeping force to help end the fighting in Lebanon, which has been far less costly in terms of human life than Sudan's war against civilians and has lasted far less long. The appearance is that Egypt's policy toward a murderous campaign that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives is being determined by the government in Khartoum. It is further the appearance that the answer to my question as to whether the lives of non-Arab African Muslims are worth as much as anyone else's is, from his point of view and that of his government, "no."


Oh great, just what we need, another pinhead.

"The only way in which such terrorist outrage can begin to be addressed, in the short and long term, is by finding a different way in confronting terrorism." Oh yeah, and what do you suggest? Kryptonite?

First of all, I haven't heard any concrete proof that Al Queada is involved in this one. Seems lioke brilliance boy here is leaching on the Al Queada name to try to impress us. First of all, no one knows nothing. The Brits and the US have been tracking these heinous plotters for months, and if there were any definite Al Queada ties, that would have been headlined ad nauseum, as is the Bush administration's wont. Haven't heard it, most likely isn't so. A word of advice to the empty headed "gosh I wanna be so important" waste of time who doesn't want us to forget, (yeah, like there's a hope in hell of that with the current admin in place) when you drop names, make sure its relevant.

Mahmoud Sabit:

Mr. Zathras
Many thanks for your comments. I read them with some interest, and wondered what you believe Egypt should do in reference to the Darfur crisis? Invade the Sudan? or just frighten them with a few flocks of warplanes, and maybe emphasize the point by deploying a large herd of main battle tanks? No Egypt does not engage in irresponsible military adventurism. Another example of this is occuring on its immediate border to its East; Israel and the Gaza Strip, where the oppression of Palestinians and the murder of its civilian populace is a daily occurence. Perhaps in your opinion Egypt should break off diplomatic relations with Israel, or abrogate its peace treaty, in addition to adopting menacing and aggressive postures? No Egypt adheres to its international obligations, respects its treaties. and does not engage in policies that require it to invade sovereign nations. Its deeds are counted in its exercise of quiet bi-lateral and multi-lateral diplomacy. Egypt does not seek solutions through the tactics of the neighborhood Don and his henchmen. As for reeling off a list of 'demands,' perhaps you believe that as these are Muslim 'demands' they would be better received in the West were we a little more obseqious as in; 'Please Sahib, dont kill me, Sahib.' Relating to Darfur, the lives of people regardless of color or faith should be respected, however this subject is a very complex situation and should be a question posed to the panel, at which time a proper analysis would be submitted, where your inaccurate allegations that Egypt is aiding and abetting a 'genocide' would be properly refuted.


I wonder if Mr. Sabit believes that the lives of Muslims are just as valuable as anyone else's even if the Muslims in question are black Africans whose first language is not Arabic.

Such a view would certainly be inconsistent with the policy of Egypt's government toward Sudan, the government of which has been prosecuting a genocidal war against civilians in its western Darfur region for almost four years now. If the lives of those Muslim civilians really were worth as much in the eyes of Egyptians as those of other people, perhaps Cairo's government would not be supporting Khartoum's refusal to permit a UN peacekeeping force to replace the undermanned and ineffectual African Union force now in the area.

Respect is earned by deeds, not words. A Egyptian reeling off a long list of demands of the West might consider that they would be better received if his own country were not making genocide -- actual genocide, the real thing -- possible just over its southern border.

Post a comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.


  • America's Role
  • Business and Technology
  • Culture and Society
  • Environment
  • Human Rights
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Islamic Movements
  • Israel-Palestine
  • Security and Terrorism
  • The Global Economy
  • The New Asia
PostGlobal is an interactive conversation on global issues moderated by Newsweek International Editor Fareed Zakaria and David Ignatius of The Washington Post. It is produced jointly by Newsweek and, as is On Faith, a conversation on religion. Please send your comments, questions and suggestions for PostGlobal to Lauren Keane, its producer.