“Even Islamists have to eat” 1

Islamists have to eat? We don’t see the necessity.

The following quotation comes from a characteristically well-informed and interesting article by Spengler (David P. Goldman). It was published about a year ago, while the Muslim Brotherhood was in power in Egypt, and its leader Mohamed Morsi was president.

The Obama administration is so deeply invested in the notion that the Muslim Brotherhood embodies the future of Islamic democracy that the imagination strains to identify a circumstance that might persuade the White House to abandon its support for the new Egyptian regime. …

Why, then, would President Morsi bite the hand that is trying to feed it? His undisguised contempt for American perceptions and neglect of diplomats’ security are a profound embarrassment to the White House …  Morsi has made it harder, if not outright impossible, for Obama to deliver the proffered aid package, which Egypt desperately requires.

The answer well may be that no one can govern Egypt. Even Islamists have to eat. Since the fall of Mubarak the country’s foreign exchange reserves have fallen from $35 billion to $15 billion, but less than $7 billion of that sum constitutes liquid and spendable cash-less than two months’ worth of imports.

He goes on to explain, with facts and figures, that Egypt was in dire economic straits. “Roughly half the population subsists on less than $2 a day.” It is even poorer now.

The dissonance between the reality on the ground in Egypt and Washington’s narrative has already become grating. In the coming weeks it is likely to become intolerable.

The Egyptian military, led by the defense minister General Abdul Fatah al-Sisi , declared Morsi unseated on 3 July 2013 and imprisoned him. Yesterday they attacked encampments of Morsi protesters. Over 500 dead and over 3,000 wounded have so far been reported.

Yesterday, Spengler wrote at PJ Media:

I do not have anything new to say about Egypt; I said it all a year ago and more. Failure is an option in Egypt. The denouement is inevitable and therefore of minor analytic interest. But I should like to ask a question:

Suppose the German military had overthrown the democratically-elected leader of Germany and massacred his loyal followers, say, in 1936? The world, presumably, would have condemned the blatant use of force against an elected leader even if, hypothetically, a third of the German population already had taken to the streets to demand Hitler’s ouster.

He is supposing that “the world” is mourning with the Muslim Brotherhood because of Morsi’s supporters being slaughtered. We very much doubt that “the world” is shedding a single tear, while we’re sure that the Obama administration is shedding many (figuratively speaking).

Then Spengler says:

The Muslim Brothers are Nazis bearing a crescent rather than a swastika. 

And with that we wholly agree.

In the case of the Muslim Brotherhood, a useful reminder is to read once again Paul Berman’s 2007 New Republic essay and his 2010 book, The Flight of the Intellectuals, which expanded it. Archivists have brought to light the wartime German Foreign Ministry broadcasts that created modern Islamist ideology and in particular its ferocious Jew-hatred.

Here again we have an objection to make. The Jew-hating broadcasts happened for sure, but Islam did not need the Nazis’ advice to begin hating the Jews. The Koran insists upon it.

… Here is one citation from Berman’s essay worth pondering:

There is nothing especially novel or bizarre in noticing that al-Banna displayed an eager interest in the aesthetic cult of death.

Al-Banna was the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood.

… [He] came up with a double phrase about the importance of death as a goal of jihad—“the art of death” (fann al-mawt) and “death is art” (al-mawt fann). This phrase became … a famous part of al-Banna’s legacy.

The Spengler’s quotation from Berman goes on to include quotations  from “the classic history of the Muslim Brotherhood, The Society of the Muslim Brothers, by Richard P. Mitchell, which appeared in 1969″.

Stringing together his own paraphrases with al-Banna’s words, Mitchell wrote: “The Qur’an has commanded people to love death more than life” (which, I might add, is a phrase that we have heard more than once in terrorist statements during the last few years, for instance in the videotape that was made by the Islamist group that attacked Madrid in 2004). And al-Banna continued, in Mitchell’s presentation: “Unless the philosophy of the Qur’an on death replaces the love of life which has consumed Muslims, they will reach naught. Victory can only come with the mastery of the art of death.” 

Spengler writes and quotes all this to explain why the Muslim Brotherhood deserves no tears. And about that we again wholly agree with him.

But it also needs to be pointed out that al-Banna was plainly talking nonsense – could not have thought through what he was propounding. (Logic is against the ideology of Islam.) Even if he really believed in that paradise that Islam promises Muslims (or at least male Muslims), as an instruction to all Muslims it makes no sense at all to make death the goal of jihad, to “love death more than life”. Why strive for Islam’s domination over the whole world if it is better that all Muslims die rather than live? Why fight the jihad? Why try to survive? Why eat? 

Morsi would not have saved Egypt from starvation. The princes of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States may do so by subsidizing the regime of the military. But if the Muslim Brothers die, whether from bullets or hunger, who but Obama, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry will regret their departure to that sky brothel of the Prophet’s lewd imagination?

Dry spring 3

The revolutions in the Arab states of North Africa have not been a success by any definition. Want is spreading: there could be mass starvation. Refugees are scattering eastward and northward by the hundreds of thousands.

As the disaster deepens, Italy has begun to feel the effect. Turkey is bracing for it.

Years of corruption are bringing their ineluctable results with the devastating force of an economic tornado.

Spengler writes at the Asian Times online:

I’ve been warning for months that Egypt, Syria, Tunisia and other Arab oil-importing countries face a total economic meltdown … Now the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has confirmed my warnings.

The IMF, remember, is a socialist institution whose prosperity-destroying work is to redistribute wealth globally.

The leaders of the industrial nations waited until last weekend’s Group of Eight (G-8) summit to respond, and … President Barack Obama proposed what sounds like a massive aid program but probably consists mainly of refurbishing old programs.

The egg has splattered, and all of Obumpty’s horses and men can’t mend it. Even the G-8’s announcement was fumbled; Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper refused to commit new money

Stephen Harper is one of the very few principled leaders in the world at present.

The numbers thrown out by the IMF are stupefying. “In the current baseline scenario,” wrote the IMF on May 27, “the external financing needs of the region’s oil importers is projected to exceed $160 billion during 2011-13.” That’s almost three years’ worth of Egypt’s total annual imports as of 2010. As of 2010, the combined current account deficit (that is, external financing needs) of Egypt, Syria, Yemen, Morocco and Tunisia was about $15 billion a year.

What the IMF says, in effect, is that the oil-poor Arab economies – especially Egypt – are not only broke, but dysfunctional, incapable of earning more than a small fraction of their import bill. The disappearance of tourism is an important part of the problem, but shortages of fuel and other essentials have had cascading effects throughout these economies.

“In the next 18 months,” the IMF added, “a greater part of these financing needs will need to be met from the international community because of more cautious market sentiments during the uncertain transition.”

Translation: private investors aren’t stupid enough to throw money down a Middle Eastern rat-hole, and now that the revolutionary government has decided to make a horrible example of deposed president Hosni Mubarak, anyone who made any money under his regime is cutting and running. At its May 29 auction of treasury bills, Egypt paid about 12% for short-term money, to its own captive banking system. Its budget deficit in the next fiscal year, the government says, will exceed $30 billion.

And the IMF’s $160 billion number is only “external financing”; that is, maintaining imports into a busted economy. It doesn’t do a thing to repair busted economies that import half their caloric intake, as do the oil-poor Arab nations.

Egypt’s economy is in free fall. …

Of course, the IMF’s admission that Egypt, Tunisia, Syria and Yemen can’t meet the majority of their import bill without foreign aid does not increase the probability that these countries will obtain financing on that scale. On May 30, the IMF announced that it would lend $3 billion to Egypt – a tenth of its budget deficit – sometime in June. The G-8 offered the grandiose pledge of $20 billion in their own money along with $20 billion from the IMF, World Bank, and so forth, to support the “Arab Spring”, with the dissension of the Canadian prime minister. But it is unclear whether that represents new money, or a shuffling of existing aid commitments, or nothing whatever.

Whatever the Group of Eight actually had in mind, the proposed aid package for the misnomered Arab Spring has already become a punching bag for opposition budget-cutters.

As it must and should.

One American politician asking the right questions is Sarah Palin:

Should we be borrowing money from China to turn around and give it to the Muslim Brotherhood?” Sarah Palin asked on May 27. “Now, given that Egypt has a history of corruption when it comes to utilizing American aid, it is doubtful that the money will really help needy Egyptian people. Couple that with the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood is organized to have a real shot at taking control of Egypt’s government, and one has to ask why we would send money (that we don’t have) into unknown Egyptian hands.” …

Last month, rice disappeared from public storehouses amid press reports that official food distribution organizations were selling the grain by the container on the overseas market. Last week, diesel fuel was the scarce commodity, with 24-hour queues forming around gasoline stations. Foreign tankers were waiting at Port Said on the Suez Canal to pump diesel oil from storage facilities, as government officials sold the scarce commodity for cash. …

Syria is also vulnerable to hunger, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned May 23. “Continuing unrest in Syria will not only affect economic growth but could disrupt food distribution channels leading to severe localized shortages in main markets,” according to the FAO. ”Syria hosts one of the largest urban refugee populations in the world, including nearly one million Iraqis who have become more vulnerable because of rising food and fuel prices.”

Nearly 700,000 Libyan refugees have reached Egypt, fleeing their country’s civil war. At least 30,000 Tunisian refugees (and likely many more) have overwhelmed camps in Italy, and perhaps a tenth of that number have drowned in the attempt to reach Europe. A large but unknown number of Syrian refugees have fled to Lebanon and Turkey. …

Turkey fears a mass influx of Syrian Kurdish refugees, so that “Turkish generals have thus prepared an operation that would send several battalions of Turkish troops into Syria itself to carve out a ‘safe area’ for Syrian refugees inside Assad’s caliphate.” The borders of the affected nations have begun to dissolve along with their economies.

It will get worse fast.