Magnum Photo: SYRIA. Damascus. Union between Syria and Egypt. Portrait of President of Egypt Gamal Abdel NASSER. 1958.
Gamal Abdel Nasser led the 1952 Egyptian revolution that overthrew the corrupt and ineffective monarchy of King Farouk. Nasser was born into a working-class family in Asyut province. His father was a postal clerk. Nasser graduated from the Royal Military Academy in Cairo and served in the Sudan. He fought in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War at Falluja, where Egyptian forces held out against Israel until the war's end. After the 1948 war, Nasser and other junior officers blamed King Farouk for the war's substandard weaponry and lack of military strategy.
Nasser was one of the founders of the secret Free Officers group that was determined to oust Farouk and set Egypt on a different path. Although the older and better-known Brigadier-General Muhammad Naguib was put forward to the public as the head of the officers' group, Nasser was in fact the acknowledged leader. He was known for carefully listening to all viewpoints and then making decisions. On July 22, 1952, the Free Officers overthrew the monarchy in a practically bloodless coup d'état. A Revolutionary Command Council (RCC) was established with Naguib as its head. Nasser and Naguib clashed over whether to keep a parliamentary system or to establish a one-party state with populist support, a course Nasser favored. The majority of the officers favored Nasser, and a single party, the Liberation Rally, was established in 1953. After a failed assassination attempt on Nasser in 1954, the Muslim Brotherhood, with whom Naguib had close ties, was banned, and Naguib was removed from power. A new constitution was implemented in 1956 and Nasser was elected president by a huge majority of Egyptian voters. He was twice reelected to the position. A highly charismatic figure and a brilliant speaker in colloquial Arabic, Nasser was extremely popular with the majority of Egyptians and among average Arabs everywhere.
Not an ideologue, Nasser was a pragmatic political leader who sought to develop Egypt economically and socially. He moved toward socialism and the Soviet Union after his requests for military aid had been rebuffed by the United States. His regime jailed members of both the Egyptian Communist Party and the Muslim Brotherhood on the right.
After attending the Bandung Conference in 1955, Nasser joined with Jawaharlal Nehru of India and Marshal Tito of Yugoslavia in championing positive neutralism, in which Third World nations would not forge solid alliances with either the United States or the Soviet Union in the cold war but would instead act in their own best interests. Neither of the superpowers liked this approach, but the United States was particularly hostile to it. Steering a neutral course, Nasser opposed the Western-led CENTO/Baghdad Pact and opposed Arab regimes such as the Hashemite monarchies in Iraq and Jordan and the conservative, extremely pro-Western Saudi Arabian monarchy.
Nasser also spoke of Egypt belonging to three circles: the Arab, African, and Islamic worlds. Under Nasser, Egypt became a center for African and Arab political leaders and students. Although he was personally a devout Muslim, Nasser was committed to secular government and persecuted Islamists, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood, which sought to establish a state based on Muslim religious law and practice.
Like all Arab leaders, Nasser supported the Palestinian cause and their right to self-determination. He permitted some fedayeen (self-sacrificers) guerrilla attacks from the Egyptian-administered Gaza Strip in Israel, but he also recognized the superiority of Israel's military. Consequently he initially sought, through back channels, to negotiate settlements to the conflict with Israel. Israel insisted on face-to-face negotiations, and the attempts all failed.
In 1956 after the United States had refused to grant aid for building the Aswān Dam, Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal. The nationalization led to the 1956 Arab-Israeli War, in which Great Britain, France, and Israel jointly attacked Egypt. The war was a military loss for Egypt but a political victory after which Nasser became indisputably the most popular man in the entire Arab world.
Conservative pro-Western monarchies: Jordan and Saudi Arabia
During the so-called Arab cold war Nasser's influence dominated the liberal, progressive, and socialist governments in Syria and elsewhere, versus the conservative pro-Western monarchies, including Jordan and Saudi Arabia. In 1957, relations with King Saud from Saudi Arabia became antagonistic as the latter began to fear that Nasser's increasing popularity in Saudi Arabia was a genuine threat to the royal family's survival. Despite opposition from the governments of Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Lebanon, Nasser maintained his prestige among their citizens and those of other Arab countries. With the formation of the United Arab Republic of Egypt and Syria in 1958, Nasser perhaps reached the peak of his popularity.
Following the devastating military losses in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, Nasser accepted responsibility and resigned. Massive and generally spontaneous public demonstrations calling for his return led him to resume the Egyptian presidency, but he never regained the unquestioning support throughout the Arab world that he had previously enjoyed.
In 1970 Nasser was called upon to mediate a truce between the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and King Hussein of Jordan in the bloody war between the two. Shortly thereafter he suffered a massive heart attack, in part brought on by the tensions of the negotiation, and died in late September. Although Nasser was mistrusted and opposed in most of the West and Israel, millions of mourning Egyptians joined his funeral cortege. The legacy of Nasserism, secular pan-Arab nationalism, and state-directed socialism, spread throughout most of the Arab world during Nasser's lifetime, but declined and, except in Lebanon, largely diminished after his death.
July 17, 2012 – USA and Al Qaeda: Holy Alliance:
June 25, 2013 – Saudi Arabia: ‘Syrian rebels must be armed’:
November 7, 2013 – Syria: Saudi Arabia to spend millions to train new rebel force:
'Those who attack Egypt will never leave Egypt alive. We shall fight a regular war, a total war, a guerrilla war. Those who attack Egypt will soon realize they brought disaster upon themselves. He who attacks Egypt attacks tile whole Arab world.'
President Gamal Abdel Nasser - 15 September 1956
'Those who attack Egypt will never leave Egypt alive. We shall fight a regular war, a total war, a guerrilla war. Those who attack Egypt will soon realize they brought disaster upon themselves. He who attacks Egypt attacks tile whole Arab world. They say in their papers the -whole thing will be over in forty-eight hours. They do not know how strong we really are.'
President Gamal Abdel Nasser - 15 September 1956
Official Source : Fall of Brotherhood Type reiterates incapacity of political Islam to manage the state
July 4, 2013
An official source said that Egypt yesterday witnessed a historic shift that reflects the deep awareness and presence of our people in Egypt, their commitment to Arabism, rejection of the foreign intervention in their internal affairs and their opposition to any prejudice to Egypt's rights and sovereignty.
In a statement on Thursday, the source, added that our people in Egypt confirmed once again Egypt's leading role and depth of their belonging to Arabism and their ability to defend their interests, civilization and humanitarian history.
The source stressed that the fall of the Brotherhood type reiterated again incapacity of the political Islam forces to manage the state, protect the cultural and civilized diversity and to build an expressive type of the history of the national state.
The source added that the Syrian leadership, people, and army express deep appreciation of the national popular movement in Egypt, which has produced a great achievement, stressing that what is taking place is a radical shift that reflects a firm will to preserve democracy, diversity and the right of being different and practicing the political work and pluralism, and rejecting the Brotherhoodization of the state as a project, entity and institutions, not only in Egypt but also in the Arab and international arenas.
The source added that ''Egypt has always been an example to follow throughout its great history, as we believe that it is important that other nations would follow this transformation to foil these futile attempts which are sins against Islam, nation, history and mankind.
The source added that Syria congratulates the Egyptian army and people in all their social spectrums, political and national powers and calls the brotherly people of Egypt, who are the Syrians' brothers and partners in development, construction and destiny, to hold on to this victory and defend it, as Syria also stresses its standing by the brothers in Egypt.
Mikdad: Syria Welcomes Any Effort to Make Egyptian Public Opinion Aware of Events in Syria
Jun 10, 2013
Deputy Foreign and Expatriates Minister Dr. Fayssal Mikdad on Monday met the Egyptian media delegation currently visiting Syria and discussed with its members current developments in Syria and the region and the western challenges which seek to fragment the Arab region and liquidate the Palestinian cause in service of Israel.
Dr. Mikdad emphasized the historical relations between the people in Syria and Egypt and the role of media establishments in bolstering them, particularly since this serve the interests of the two countries' people.
He said that Syria welcomes any effort by civil and media establishments to make the Egyptian public opinion aware of the events in Syria and end the misdirection practiced by some sides in order to mislead some Egyptians to join armed terrorist groups in Syria.
Dr. Mikdad said that Syria is prepared to find a solution for the issue of Egyptians involved in the events in Syria.
For their part, the Egyptian journalists voiced their keenness on Syria and its sovereignty and independence, expressing solidarity with the Syrian people in the face of the terrorism targeting them which is manipulated by western countries and their pawns in several Arab countries. They also decried the suspect role played by the Arab League in this matter.
The delegation members said they are determined to reveal the goals of the attack which Syria is weathering on behalf of the Arab nation, adding that this attack is orchestrated by the west and Israel with the aim of weakening the Arab nation and undermining its sovereignty and independence.
Death Toll of Clashes in Egypt Rises to 32, More Than 700 Wounded
Jan 26, 2013
The death toll of the ongoing clashes between Security Forces and demonstrators in Egypt which started since Friday on the 2nd anniversary of January 25th revolution rose to 32 and more than 700 wounded, according to medical sources and a statement by the Egyptian Health Ministry.
The Health Ministry stated that the number of killed people due to the continuous clashes in the city of Port Said increased up to 24 and more than 300 wounded.
Director of the Heath Affairs Department in the city, Dr. Helmi al-Afani, said the Department called upon the residents to donate blood and asked the doctors in the city to participate in treating the injured.
Events in Port Said escalated after the Criminal Court in the city issued death sentences against 21 people suspected in the events.
The families of the suspects reacted by trying to storm into the rescue and emergency garage of the province in a bid to get their hands on vehicles to use them in breaking into the Prison of Port Said and releasing the suspects. Accordingly, the security forces and policemen headed to the garage to keep the situation under control.
Clashes erupted later when another group of the suspects' families set ablaze the housing compound of the Central Security personnel outside the Port Said Hospital as well as the Electricity Directorate, while others blocked the road between Port Said and al-Ismailia.
Earlier, reports said that the clashes between the Security Forces and demonstrators near Port Said Prison resulted in the killing of 5 persons, among them an officer and a police officer, and injuring of 75 others.
Egyptian Interior Ministry Spokesman, Major Gen. Osama Ismael said that an officer and a police secretary were killed and scores of the Prisons guard forces were injured in the events.
Ismael added that the number of police members who were injured during the last two days reached 122.
Egyptian al-Yaoum7 site quoted medical sources in al-Suez city as saying that the death toll of clashes in this port city rose to 9 , adding that the victims died of live bullets.
The sources said that 118 persons were injured during the clashes.
Ministry of Health reported that one citizen was killed in al-Ismailia city with more than 456 wounded people.
Clashes between Egyptian Security forces and protestors broke out in a number of Egyptian cities on the 2nd anniversary of January 25th revolution against policies of President Mohammad Morsi.
Meanwhile, more than 15 political powers in the country called on the Egyptian people to demonstrate on Saturday in protest of the policies of Morsi and the rule of the Muslim brotherhood.
The powers announced organizing a mass peaceful march at 3 afternoon setting off from al-Tahrir Square before Omar Makram mosque into al-Shura council.
H. Zain /H. Said/ Mazen
November 28, 2012 - 200,000 protest Mohammed Morsi in Egypt - Anger on the rise over his edict of increased power
November 16th, 2012 - Thousands of people have rallied in Egypt to show their solidarity with the Palestinians over the recent escalation of Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip.
Egyptians marched in the country’s two largest cities, Cairo and Alexandria, on Friday, waving Palestinian flags and chanting slogans against Israel in condemnation of its murderous attacks on the besieged Palestinian enclave, the Associated Press reported.
In Tahrir Square, which lies at the heart of Cairo, hundreds of protesters burned an Israeli flag.
Influential cleric Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi also said the Muslim world would not remain silent in the face of Israel’s military offensive against Gaza.
Meanwhile, several thousand protesters gathered outside Al-Azhar mosque after Friday Prayers and chanted, “We will go to Gaza in our millions,” swearing to “sacrifice ourselves for you, Palestine.”
“It’s the least we can do. We need to show Israel our anger,” protester Ahmed Selim said.
The demonstrations, called by President Mohamed Morsi, coincided with the visit to Gaza by Egypt’s Prime Minister Hisham Qandil to offer support to Palestinians and pressure Israel to halt its violence.
The new wave of Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip has claimed at least 25 lives since Wednesday. Ahmed al-Ja’abari, the popular and influential head of the Hamas military wing, the Ezzedeen al-Qassam Brigades, was assassinated in an Israeli attack on his car on Wednesday.
The Israeli military frequently carries out airstrikes and other attacks on Gaza Strip, saying the actions are being conducted for defensive purposes. However, in violation of international law, disproportionate force is always used and civilians are often killed or injured.
Gaza has been blockaded since 2007, a situation that has caused a decline in the standard of living, unprecedented levels of unemployment, and unrelenting poverty.
The apartheid regime of Israel denies about 1.7 million people in Gaza their basic rights, such as freedom of movement, jobs that pay proper wages, and adequate healthcare and education.
Israeli warships have fired missiles into Gaza Strip as Israel launches a major military offensive against the Palestinian enclave.
A Pentagon spokesman said shortly after the attacks that Washington is closely watching developments in Gaza and that the US stands by Israel.
Egypt has recalled its ambassador to Israel following Tel Aviv’s deadly airstrikes against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
US is responsible for the extension of Israeli settlements on Palestinian territory
1) On November 15, 2010, U.S. President Barack Obama praised Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for urging his cabinet to accept a U.S. proposal to extend a freeze on West Bank settlement building for 90 days. Under the plan, Washington would block UN resolutions critical of Israel, and supply Israel with fighter jets worth $3 billion. The US government also promised Israel that after the 90-day moratorium, they would not seek an extension, and settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem (all of which is illegal under international law) could continue unabated.
2) In February 2011, more than 100 nations voted for a U.N. resolution that would have condemned illegal Israeli settlements and halted any new construction. The United States vetoed it.
3) On February 19, 2011, Israel said it was deeply grateful to the United States after it vetoed a United Nations resolution put forward by the Palestinian leadership condemning Israeli settlement activity.
4) On Oct 27, 2011, Israeli jetfighters engaged in aerial bombing of the Palestinian city of Khan Yunes in the Gaza Strip.
Harvard Gazette of September 24th, 2012:
... Murhaf Jouejati, a Syrian-born 'specialist on Middle East affairs', also condemned China, Iran, and Russia for sending military aid to support Assad. “The government of Russia is a partner in mass murder, and let history show that,” Jouejati said. Above all, he called for “human decency.”
Who's responsible for the terrorist acts and suffering of the Syrian people ?
1) Obama signed a secret order authorizing U.S. support for Syrian terrorists seeking to depose Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his government. Obama’s order, approved earlier this year and known as an intelligence “finding,” broadly permits the CIA and other U.S. agencies to provide support that could help the terrorists oust Assad. C.I.A. officers are operating secretly in southern Turkey. The weapons, including automatic rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, ammunition and some antitank weapons, are being funneled mostly across the Turkish border by way of a shadowy network of intermediaries including Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood and paid for by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The United States is setting up joint military, intelligence and medical working teams with Israel, Turkey and Jordan.
2) British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Britain would step up its support for the armed groups in Syria, providing them with an additional £5 million (US$7.8 million). The money is used for bomb attacks in Syria.
3) An official source told a SANA reporter that the seized arms included Nato sniper rifles, machineguns, hunting rifles, explosive devices of various weights, devices for remote control detonation and an amount of batteries and electrical wires.
4) Belgian Senator Nele Lijnen said that she intends to launch a discussion at the Belgian Senate regarding the fact that the terrorists in Syria possess weapons made in Belgium.
5) The Swiss Authorities announced that they are investigating into information published by Sonntags Zeitung newspaper about hand grenades used by armed terrorist groups in Syria.
6) The weapons and military equipment recently discovered and seized by the Syrian Army in Idlib province proves NATO's arms and logistic support for terrorists in Syria.
7) The seized weapons in Salqain district in Idlib included 7.26 guns along with other weapons as well as boxes of gunshots with the words "NATO BALL" carved on them.
8) The Lebanese army intelligence has seized a large quantity of wea Lutfallah II container pons hidden inside cars aboard an Italian ship at Tripoli port, north of Lebanon, Lebanese security sources told Al-Manar TV.
9) This comes just days after the Lebanese Army Marines confiscated Lutfallah II arms shipment off the Lebanese port of Batoun while it was carrying 300,000 pounds of weapons within three containers. Reports said the cargo ship, which was flying the flag of Sierra-Leone, had left Libya and was bound to Syria.
10) Lebanese terrorist Mohammad Hussein Fares confessed to participating in smuggling weapons, militants and journalists into Syria and committing terrorists acts against Syrians.
11) Fares said that they smuggled assault rifles, RPG rounds, sniper rifles, LAW missiles, machineguns and cases of ammo, delivering them to Amoun, with al-Jarban coming later to distribute them among terrorists.
12) US, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are arming AL-QAEDA Terrorists to commit Terrorism in Syria
13) Over 30,000 various weapons have been channelled to Syria since unrest flared up there in April last year, Amin Khteit says. The overall amount of explosives makes up 300 tons. The deliveries were made by Qatar and Saudi Arabia. They depend on the United States, which is making every effort to overpower Syria.
14) The authorities seized weapons smuggled from Turkey in Tal Abyad area on the Syrian-Turkish borders in Raqqa countryside.
15) A Turkish parliamentarian has stressed that Turkish ambulances are transporting weapons to terrorist groups in Syria, expressing their opposition to Ankara's policies on the Syrian case...
Speech by President Nasser of the United Arab Republic, September 15, 1956
In these decisive days in the history of mankind, these days in which truth struggles to have itself recognized in international chaos where powers of evil domination and imperialism have prevailed, Egypt stands firmly to preserve her sovereignty. Your country stands solidly and staunchly to preserve her dignity against imperialistic schemes of a number of nations who have uncovered their desires for domination and supremacy.
In these days and in such circumstances Egypt has resolved to show the world that when small nations decide to preserve their sovereignty, they will do that all right and that when these small nations are fully determined to defend their rights and maintain their dignity, they will undoubtedly succeed in achieving their ends. . . .
I am speaking in the name of every Egyptian Arab and in the name of all free countries and of all those who believe in liberty and are ready to defend it. I am speaking in the name of principles proclaimed by these countries in the Atlantic Charter. But they are now violating these principles and it has become our lot to shoulder the responsibility of reaffirming and establishing them anew. . . .
We have tried by all possible means to cooperate with those countries which claim to assist smaller nations and which promised to collaborate with us but they demanded their fees in advance. This we refused so they started to fight with us. They said they will pay toward building the High Dam and then they withdrew their offer and cast doubts on the Egyptian economy. Are we to declaim [disclaim?] our sovereign right? Egypt insists her sovereignty must remain intact and refuses to give up any part of that sovereignty for the sake of money.
Egypt nationalized the Egyptian Suez Canal company. When Egypt granted the concession to de Lesseps it was stated in the concession between the Egyptian Government and the Egyptian company that the company of the Suez Canal is an Egyptian company subject to Egyptian authority. Egypt nationalized this Egyptian company and declared freedom of navigation will be preserved.
But the imperialists became angry. Britain and France said Egypt grabbed the Suez Canal as if it were part of France or Britain. The British Foreign Secretary forgot that only two years ago he signed an agreement stating the Suez Canal is an integral part of Egypt.
Egypt declared she was ready to negotiate. But as soon as negotiations began threats and intimidations started. . . .
Eden stated in the House of Commons there shall be no discrimination between states using the canal. We on our part reaffirm that and declare there is no discrimination between canal users. He also said Egypt shall not be allowed to succeed because that would spell success for Arab nationalism and would be against their policy, which aims at the protection of Israel.
Today they are speaking of a new association whose main objective would be to rob Egypt of the canal and deprive her of rightful canal dues. Suggestions made by Eden in the House of Commons which have been backed by France and the United States are a clear violation of the 1888 convention, since it is impossible to have two bodies organizing navigation in the canal. . . .
By stating that by succeeding, Abdel Nasser would weaken Britain : s stand against Arab nationalism, Eden is in fact admitting his real objective is not Abdel Nasser as such but rather to defeat Arab nationalism and crush its cause. Eden speaks and finds his own answer. A month ago he let out the cry that be was after Abdel Nasser. Today the Egyptian people are fully conscious of their sovereign rights and Arab nationalism is fully awakened to its new destiny....
Those who attack Egypt will never leave Egypt alive. We shall fight a regular war, a total war, a guerrilla war. Those who attack Egypt will soon realize they brought disaster upon themselves. He who attacks Egypt attacks tile whole Arab world. They say in their papers the -whole thing will be over in forty-eight hours. They do not know how strong we really are.
We believe in international law. But we will never submit. We shall show the world bow a small country can stand in the face of great powers threatening with armed might. Egypt might be a small power but she is great inasmuch as she has faith in her power and convictions. I feel quite certain every Egyptian shares the same convictions as I do and believes in everything I am stressing now.
We shall defend our freedom and independence to the last drop of our blood. This is the stanch feeling of every Egyptian. The whole Arab nation will stand by us in our common fight against aggression and domination. Free peoples, too, people who are really free will stand by us and support us against the forces of tyranny….
President Gamal Abdel Nasser
Gamal Abdel Nasser Hussein (Arabic: جمال عبد الناصر حسين 15 January 1918 – 28 September 1970) was the second President of Egypt from 1956 until his death. A colonel in the Egyptian army, Nasser led the Egyptian Revolution of 1952 along with Muhammad Naguib, the first president, which overthrew the monarchy of Egypt and Sudan, and heralded a new period of modernization, and socialist reform in Egypt together with a profound advancement of pan-Arab nationalism, including a short-lived union with Syria.
Nasser was keen to see Egypt free of any overtones of colonialism.
The most obvious source of a foreign power being dominant in Egypt was the British/French control of the Suez Canal. Completed in 1869, the canal was designed by Ferdinand de Lesseps. However the vast bulk of the physical labour required to build this engineering marvel was done by Egyptian nationals. Britain had a 40% holding in the company that ran the canal. However, despite the fact that the canal was on Egyptian ‘soil’, the benefits it brought the people of Egypt were minimal.
Under his leadership, Egypt nationalized the Suez Canal Company and came to play a central role in anti-imperialist efforts in the Arab World and Africa.
To support his beliefs, Nasser did what he could to restore national pride to all Arab nations – not just Egypt.
Many in the general Arab population still view Nasser as a symbol of Arab dignity and freedom.
There is a media silence about Israel but Washington and Tel Aviv have a common military strategy in the Middle East
Last week U.S. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta visited Tunisia, Egypt, Israel and Jordan.
So it will not be a coincidence that the Egyptian military said yesterday that it had launched missile strikes from helicopters against suspected Islamist militants in the Sinai peninsula.
After the military action, Israeli forces said 'they killed some of the militants who broke through into Israel'.
There is now a heavy military build-up around al-Arish, correspondents reported, and Egypt's Rafah border crossing to Gaza has been indefinitely closed.
It clearly proves the West’s double-standard policy. The U.S. and its military allies are fighting 'terrorists' in Egypt but at the same time they support terrorist gangs in Syria with money and weapons. They only think about their own interests. It is for this reason that the Syrian people suffer every day and why Syria is slowly destroyed.
Trip Message: “Arab Spring” – Challenge and Opportunity
To All Department of Defense Personnel:
Last week, I took a four-day trip to the Middle East and North Africa – my 13th international TDY as a Secretary of Defense. Now that I am back in Washington, I wanted to share some of my experiences from the trip with you.
My visit to Tunisia, Egypt, Israel and Jordan took place during a critical moment for the region. Amidst a great deal of turmoil, a real confluence of challenges and opportunities is emerging. We’ve seen peaceful democratic transitions in Tunisia and Egypt, brutal violence in Syria, and a continued threat to regional stability posed by Iran and violent extremism.
As we left Washington on the way to Tunisia, it was clear that this trip would encompass many of these challenges and opportunities. Our first stop was Tunis, the capital of Tunisia and the site of the ancient city of Carthage. Tunisia was the birthplace of the Arab Spring, and one of the main purposes of the visit was to commend Tunisia’s leaders, and the people of Tunisia, on the success of their revolution. In meetings with President Marzouki, Prime Minister Jebali and Minister of Defense Zbidi I told them that the United States strongly supported Tunisia’s democratic transition. We all agreed that Tunisia’s emergence as a democracy provides an opportunity to build an expanded relationship across a range of issues – including economic and security cooperation.
After a series of bilateral meetings, I had the opportunity to pay my respects at the North Africa American Cemetery and Memorial in Carthage, where nearly 7,000 U.S. personnel who were killed or missing during the North Africa campaign in World War II are memorialized. It was an incredibly moving experience to lay a wreath at the cemetery, which is immaculately maintained thanks to the dedication of the American Battle Monuments Commission. I paused beside the grave of Foy Draper, an American gold medalist who ran with Jesse Owens during the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Draper was killed in the battle of Kasserine Pass in 1943. Like thousands of others who perished during that campaign, he will never be forgotten.
After visiting the cemetery, we made a brief stop to see the ruins of the old forum at Carthage, situated atop Byrsa Hill overlooking the blue waters of the Mediterranean. During a brief tour of the Carthage National Museum, I paused to look at beautiful, ancient mosaics – testament to the rich culture and history of the region.
My visit to Tunisia ended with an Iftar dinner graciously hosted by Minister of Defense Zbidi. It was an honor to break the Ramadan fast with the Minister and Tunisia’s senior military leaders, who have played a very positive role in the revolution. Tunisia still faces a number of challenges as it continues its democratic consolidation, but I came away from my time their impressed with its leaders courage and vision, and pleased to be able to assure them that the United States supports Tunisia’s democratic change.
Our next stop on this trip was Cairo. Egypt is also undergoing a peaceful democratic transition, and the main purpose of this visit was to meet with their newly elected leader, President Morsi, and with Field Marshal Tantawi, who has been instrumental in leading the historic transition to democratic, civilian rule. The U.S.-Egypt security relationship has been the bedrock of regional stability for more than 30 years. President Morsi affirmed his commitment to that partnership. In private and in public, my message to Egypt’s leadership and the Egyptian people was simple: the United States strongly supports Egypt’s democratic future through an orderly, peaceful and legitimate transition to a democratic system of government.
From Cairo I took a quick flight aboard a C-17 to Tel Aviv for my second visit to Israel as Secretary of Defense – and my fifth since joining the Obama administration in 2009. I have built a strong working relationship with my counterpart, Minister of Defense Ehud Barak, and he joined me at my hotel in Jerusalem for a private dinner soon after I arrived. Our conversation focused on the range of pressing security challenges confronting Israel and the United States in the region – most notably Iran’s nuclear ambitions and the violence being perpetrated by the Assad regime in Syria, on Israel’s northern border. The challenges facing the U.S. and Israel are significant, but in the face of those challenges we have reached what Minister Barak has called the strongest levels of defense cooperation in our history.
One tangible sign of that cooperation is the $275 million we have provided Israel to acquire the Iron Dome short-range rocket defense system. During my time in Israel, Minister Barak and I had the opportunity to travel to the outskirts of Ashkelon – about 45 minutes south of Tel Aviv – to tour an Iron Dome battery. Iron Dome has had a better than 80 percent success rate at hitting rockets fired from Gaza into Israeli population centers, and it has successfully intercepted more than 100 rockets. We can be proud of this system’s record of saving lives and preventing wider conflict in that region.
At the Iron Dome battery, I spoke publicly of the United States’s rock solid commitment to Israel’s security, which extends to dealing with the threat posed by Iran. The United States shares Israel’s commitment to preventing a nuclear-armed Iran, and I carried that message to President Peres and Prime Minister Netanyahu. While we are focused on increasing diplomatic pressure on Iran through sanctions, I also made clear, publicly and privately, that all options are on the table.
From Israel, I made the short trip to Amman, Jordan, to consult with King Abdullah. This was my first trip to Jordan as Secretary of Defense. The situation in Syria, and its impact on Jordan, dominated our discussion. I told the King we appreciate Jordan’s efforts to keep his country’s borders open to those fleeing the violence in Syria, and that we will work closely with the Government of Jordan to provide humanitarian assistance in support of those affected by the violence in Syria. We both agreed that strong international pressure needs to be sustained to make clear that Assad must go, and that the Syrian people deserve to determine their own future.
After my meeting with the King, I returned to the airport and boarded the Air Force E4-B for the twelve and a half hour flight back to Washington. On the flight, I reflected on the many challenges and opportunities that are facing the region.
In each country, there was a clear desire for closer partnership with our military, and once again I was struck by the deep respect foreign leaders have for our Department of Defense. That is a tribute to you – the millions of men and women who support our mission of protecting the country, and advancing U.S. security interests around the globe. In a time of challenge and turmoil, your efforts are helping American play a positive role in supporting change throughout the region.
You will always have my gratitude, and the gratitude of the American people, for your work in helping us achieve a safer and more secure future.
Leon E. Panetta
Secretary of Defense
We have a lot of problems now with publishing our messages. The photo of Panetta and Barak's meeting was continuously blocked. Is it a crime to say 'NO' to the American war propaganda and the armament of mercenary forces in independent countries ?
Today - AL-ARISH, Egypt (Reuters) - Gunman fired shots towards a police station in the main administrative centre of Egypt's North Sinai on Thursday, underscoring lawlessness in the desert region bordering Israel as a Egyptian military offensive there entered its second day.
Hundreds of troops in armored cars drove out of the town to hunt Islamist militants blamed for killing 16 Egyptian border guards on Sunday, the biggest spike in violence which has been growing steadily since last year's overthrow of Hosni Mubarak.
The gunfire in al-Arish, the nerve centre of the government's otherwise shaky control of the North Sinai region, showed how difficult it will be for Egypt to impose order. It followed attacks on checkpoints in the town on Wednesday.
Israel has welcomed Egypt's offensive while continuing to express worries about the deteriorating situation in Sinai, home to anti-Israel militants, Bedouin tribes angered by neglect by Cairo, gun-runners, drug smugglers and al Qaeda sympathizers.
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Egypt was acting "to an extent and with a determination that I cannot previously recall".
"Whether this ends with (their) regained control of Sinai and allows us not to worry as much as we have in the past few months, this I do not know," he told Israel Radio.
The unidentified gunmen in al-Arish fled before police could respond, a security source said, denying a report by state television that police had fought back.
Hundreds of troops and dozens of military vehicles had reached the town, security sources said, part of an offensive not seen since Egypt's 1973 war with Israel.
Photo: killings in Libya