World View: Turkey Invokes NATO Charter over Syria's Downing of Turkish Jet

World View: Turkey Invokes NATO Charter over Syria's Downing of Turkish Jet

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsi declared President of Egypt
  • Is Egypt following the path of Iran?
  • Turkey invokes Nato charter over Syria’s downing of Turkish jet
  • Turkey says that Syria ‘should pay’ for its act of war
  • More Syrian pilots defect to Jordan
  • Germany’s real estate prices soar amid the euro crisis
  • Russia sharply cuts economic aid to North Caucasus

Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsi declared President of Egypt

Hundreds of thousands of jubilant Egyptians flocked to Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Sunday to celebrate the victory of Mohamed Morsi as the country’s first freely elected president in 7000 years of Egyptian civilization. Morsi won 51% of the 26 million votes. Morsi is a graduate of the University of Southern California and two of his children are American citizens. He is an expert on precision metal surfaces and has worked at NASA on the development of space shuttle engines.

In the somewhat emotional speech, he tried to allay the fears of all segments of society, particularly those who fear that the Muslim Brotherhood will turn Egypt into a violent, harshly Islamic state similar to Iran, and will abrogate Egypt’s 1979 peace treaty with Israel:

“We will honor international treaties and agreements, and will create balanced international relations based on mutual interests and respect. We will protect our borders, and reject foreign meddling in our domestic affairs.

Egypt is capable of defending itself against any foreign aggression, and will protect Egyptians anywhere in the world.”

He specifically named both women and Coptic Christians as groups whose rights will be protected.

“I will be president for all Egyptians, those inside the country and abroad. The people are source of all powers, and it’s time for unity to rebuild our country and achieve goals of the revolution.
Together, Egyptians will create better and bright future for this nation.”

Al-Ahram (Cairo) and Bikya Masr (Cairo)

Is Egypt following the path of Iran?

One of the reasons that generational theory works is that most people have little or no knowledge of anything that happened before they were born, and they assume that the events of 20 or 30 years ago will automatically be repeated. Thus, I’ve had many discussions with people in the last 15 months who are almost certain that the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood means that Egypt will become another harshly conservative Islamic state like Iran, after the Great Islamic Revolution of 1979. Indeed, many of the statements coming from Iran itself seem to indicate that those leaders think that will happen as well.

The entire Mideast is experiencing enormous change and turmoil since the start of the “Arab Spring,” and there’s no way to be certain exactly how things will turn out. Egypt today is in a generational Crisis era, and Iran in 1979 was in a generational Crisis era, so that much is the same. But beyond that, Egypt today bears absolutely no resemblance at all to 1979 Iran:

  • There is no Egyptian figure today like Iran’s charismatic Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who electrified the country by blaming Iran’s troubles on imperialism by the U.S. and the West. Certainly Mohamed Morsi is not that kind of figure.
  • Iran fought an extremely violent and bloody civil war along the historic fault line of the monarchy versus the clerics. In the last year, I’ve seen no similar bloody fault line in Egypt, as indicated by the fact that brief spurts of violence between the secularists and the army have fizzled very quickly. (There is a significant fault line between ethnic Egyptians and ethnic Bedouins, and that could flare into something bigger, but that’s not currently on the horizon.)
  • The crowds in 1979 Tehran yelled “Death to America.” If the crowds in Tahrir Square massively started yelling “Death to Israel,” then I’d have to change my opinion, but there’s been almost no sign of that in the past year. Similarly brief isolated bouts of violence with Coptic Christians have fizzled quickly, and even created a backlash of support for Copts. What I’ve seen repeatedly in the last year was that all the leaders, including Morsi, have gone out of their way to reassure everyone that Egypt’s revolution will NOT be another Iran. The crowds in Tahrir Square have almost always directed their anger at Hosni Mubarak and the army, not at Israel or America.

The Muslim Brotherhood itself renounced violence in the 1970s, and the vast majority of Egyptians are under age thirty, meaning that they’ve never known a violent Brotherhood, and have no expectation that there will be one. It’s true that some of the senior leaders sometimes give speeches in Arabic expressing a desire for violence, but those are people from old generations whose time is past.

If you’d like to look for historic analogies to Egypt’s current situation, a good place to start would be Turkey in the 1920s, following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Ataturk, the revered founder of modern Turkey, declared Turkey to be a secular state in 1924. Today, Turkey has an Islamist leadership, with conservative Islamists and secularists coexisting peacefully. Turkey is often mentioned as a possible model for Egypt today, and it’s an example that they’re certainly examining.

Generational Dynamics predicts that the entire Mideast region is headed for a massive war along the Sunni/Shia fault line, with Saudi Arabia leading the Sunni side and Iran leading the Shia side. However, even that fault line isn’t 100% clear, as we’ve seen in the 2007 war between the Palestinian Authority (Fatah) and Hamas. As I’ve been writing for many years, my expectation is that in the coming Clash of Civilizations world war, the Sunni Muslim states will side with Pakistan and China, while Iran will side with India, Russia and the West, including Israel. What will Egypt do? That’s not knowable at this time, but there’s at least a 50% chance that Egypt will side with the West, and not with Saudi Arabia.

Turkey invokes NATO charter over Syria’s downing of Turkish jet

Turkey has invoked Article 4 of the NATO charter, which calls for consultations with other NATO members after one NATO member has been attacked, since an attack on one member nation is considered to be an attack on all. According to a Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman:

“It was an act of war. They shot down a plane over international waters and it is unacceptable.”

Invocation of the NATO charter has been under consideration in Turkey for some time, because of the flood of Syrian refugees that have been pouring into Turkey. Ambassadors of Nato’s 28 member states will meet in Brussels on Tuesday, to hear Turkey’s presentation on the incident. The invocation of the NATO charter raises the possibility of military action against Syria, but there is little taste in Europe for that course of action. Washington Post

Turkey says that Syria ‘should pay’ for its act of war

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu presented detailed information on how the incident took place:

  • It was a training mission to test Turkey’s own radar defenses.
  • As the jet was returning to Turkey, it unintentionally went into Syrian waters in the Mediterranean Sea for about 5 minutes, and was informed by Turkish radar installations to leave as soon as possible.
  • Syria shot down the jet over international waters, several minutes AFTER it had left Syrian airspace.
  • Turkish intelligence intercepted 16 minutes of radio communication between Syrian military officials, indicating that they knew that it was a Turkish jet.
  • Syria took no steps to warn the jet to turn around, something that’s required under international law before shooting it down.

According to Davutoglu:

“Our plane was unarmed and was performing a solo flight. Its flight was not whatsoever in a hostile one…. The Syrians knew full well that it was a Turkish military plane and the nature of its mission.”

However, analysts in other countries suspect that Turkey’s jet was on a reconnaissance mission to Syria. Hurriyet (Ankara)

More Syrian pilots defect to Jordan

Three additional Syrian military pilots defected to Jordan on Sunday, bringing up the total number of defected Syrian pilots to seven. These include Hassan Marei Hamada, who landed his Meg21 plane in Jordan last week. The rate of armed forces defections in Syria is increasing. Al-Arabiya (Dubai)

Germany’s real estate prices soar amid the euro crisis

Investors from all over Europe are investing in real estate in Germany, which they believe to be a safe haven for their money. Real estate prices rose 5.5% in 2011, and well over 10% in Berlin and other major cities. However, German officials insist that “this time it’s different,” and it’s not a real estate bubble. According to top real estate brokers in Germany, Germany’s real estate market will only continue to grow. Spiegel

Russia sharply cuts economic aid to North Caucasus

With the 2014 Sochi Olympics quickly approaching, Russian officials have repeatedly said that economic development of the mostly Muslim North Caucasus provinces was among the highest priorities. But in fact, financial assistance to the North Caucasus has been cut sharply in the last year, for two reasons: It’s been largely ineffective, and it’s been politically damaging. On the one hand, Moscow likes pointing out how much the region depends on Russian support, but on the other hand, Moscow is increasingly afraid to provoke the Russian public’s wrath over the very same issue. Ethnic Russians increasingly view the North Caucasus as a foreign body inside the Russian Federation that receives undeservedly more assistance from the central government than other regions. Furthermore, Russia is highly dependent on oil prices that have been falling, recently, leaving the country extremely vulnerable to economic shocks. Jamestown.