3 years ago

Amitai Etzioni David Katz Harsh Pant - Middle East Forum

Amitai Etzioni David Katz Harsh Pant - Middle East Forum

eports indicate that

eports indicate that lootingof shops and homes iswidespread. 11 The armystands as the last defenderof order and balance and may yet step in torestore order, end the neo-liberal economic experiment,and defend its own prerogatives. Ithas done so for 5,000 years.As the Muslim Brotherhood emerges fromthe shadows to participate and perhaps dominatethe revolution, the question of its regardfor antiquity must also be raised. Egypt’s Islamistsalso have a vision of the past. It is difficultto discern what their attitudes toward antiquitieswould be except indirectly. For example,Egypt’s grand mufti Ali Gomaa issued a fatwa in2006 banning the display of statues in homesand was joined in his condemnation by SheikhYusuf al-Qaradawi. The fatwa was condemnedby Egyptian intellectuals and even by the MuslimBrotherhood. 12It is also well to remember that Khalid al-Islambouli cried, “I have killed the pharaoh,” aftershooting Anwar Sadat on October 6, 1981. 13The pharaoh is not a positive Qur’anic imagebut a tyrant. The Luxor massacre of 1997, wheresixty-two tourists were slaughtered, saw the Islamistal-Gama’a al-Islamiya attack the Templeof Hatshepsut. The modern Egyptian and Westernrelationship with the Egyptian past was thesetting for the attack. Tourism was clearly intendedto be the victim. How the Muslim Brotherhood,dedicated to Islamizing Egypt, woulddeal with tourism, museums, and antiquities isunclear. Certainly, in the short term, for the sakeof foreign currency and appearances, little willchange. But the example of Afghanistan underthe Taliban is in the background. The destructionwrought on remains of the Jewish templesThe practicality and wisdomof repatriating antiquitiesto Egypt is Jerusalem by the PalestinianIslamic authoritiesshould also be mentioned.Perhaps most telling, however,is the almost complete erasure of Islamichistorical remains from the cities of Mecca andMedina, including structures associated withMuhammad. 14An Egypt dominated by the military will almostcertainly seek to restore both the country’ssymbols and the practical mechanisms of tourism.Whether the military can ride the crocodileof popular unrest and a population empoweredby social media yet lacking meaningful liberaldemocratic roots remains to be seen. But thereligious desire to create a rupture with the pastin the name of fighting idolatry is deep.In all this, the practicality and wisdom ofrepatriating antiquities to Egypt is dubious. ZahiHawass in particular has been determined in hispursuit of antiquities that were taken from Egyptover the past centuries. The Rosetta Stone,found by French engineers but taken as Britishwar booty, tops his list. But even objects givenby Egypt as gifts have come under his acquisitiveeye. Cleopatra’s Needle in Central Park waserected in 1881, a gift from the Khedive of Egypt.But 130 years of standing out in the rain does noobelisk good, and Hawass has demanded that itbe preserved, or he will take it back. His pursuitof Egyptian objects outside of Egypt has beenalmost as relentless as his drive to become theface of Egyptian archaeology everywhere.The pharaoh is gone and so is Hawass. 15In the meantime, those concerned aboutEgypt’s past can only sit back and watch as agenuinely Egyptian transformation takes place,one in which the relationship of past andpresent will inevitably be redefined yet alongfamiliar lines.11 The Gulf Today (Dubai), Jan. 30, 2011.12 Middle East Online (London), Apr. 3, 2006.13 Lawrence Wright, The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and theRoad to 9/11 (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2006), p. 50.14 “Muslims start petition to stop Saudi destruction of Meccaand ‘The House of Mohammed,’” Militant Islam Monitor, Sept.29, 2005.15 The New York Times, Mar. 3, 2011.78 / MIDDLE EAST QUARTERLY SPRING 2011

DATELINEAll Ahmadinejad’s Menby Ali AlfonehMahmoud Ahmadinejad’s sacking of foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki has openedanother chapter in the ongoing power struggle between the president and the supremeleader, Ali Khamene’i. Interpersonal as it may seem, this confrontation symbolizes thestruggle between the Islamic Republic’s old elites and Ahmadinejad’s burgeoning patronagenetwork, which challenges their authority. How has the president managed tobuild such a formidable power base? Who are the key members of his coterie, and willthey enable their benefactor to outsmart the supreme leader to become Iran’s effectiveruler?WAS KHAMENE’ITHE REAL TARGET?On December 13, 2010, while the foreignminister was on an official visit to Senegal,Ahmadinejad replaced Mottaki with Ali-AkbarSalehi, former Iran Atomic Energy Organizationdirector. 1 Following the public outrage aboutdismissing a cabinet minister on a diplomaticmission, “an informed source” claimed that thegovernment was unaware that Mottaki wasabroad. 2 But upon release of the news thatAhmadinejad himself had ordered Mottaki todeliver a personal message to the Senegalesepresident, 3 first vice president Mohammed-RezaRahimi and senior assistant Mojtaba SamarehHashemi said that Mottaki had been informedof the dismissal prior to the trip—a claim whichthe foreign minister denied. 4A model career diplomat, Mottaki was nevera key player in the Islamic Republic regime andAli Alfoneh is a resident fellow at the AmericanEnterprise Institute.owed his cabinet membership to Khamene’i.This, along with newly revealed informationabout the circumstances of his sacking, providesinsights into Ahmadinejad’s real target:the supreme leader.According to Ayandeh News, approximatelya week prior to Mottaki’s dismissal, Ahmadinejadhad privately complained to Khamene’i of “lackof coordination between [government] agenciesand [the presidency’s] restricted authority” andhad voiced his resolve to replace the foreign minister.No decision was made, and Ahmadinejaddid not raise the issue on his next meeting withKhamene’i on December 6, 2010. However, uponleaving the supreme leader’s office, the presidenttold one of Khamene’i’s secretaries that “he hadforgotten to raise the issue of Mottaki’s dismissalwith Ayatollah Khamene’i and asked him to informhim [Khamene’i] about it.” 51 Tabnak News Agency (Tehran), Dec. 13, 2010.2 Khabar Online (Tehran), Dec. 19, 2010.3 Farda News (Tehran), Jan. 1, 2011.4 Ibid., Dec. 19, 2010.5 Ayandeh News (Tehran), Jan. 2, 2011.Alfoneh: Ahmadinejad’s Network / 79

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