World View: Aftermath of Egypt's Referendum Vote Will Affect U.S. Aid

World View: Aftermath of Egypt's Referendum Vote Will Affect U.S. Aid

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Aftermath of Egypt’s referendum vote will affect U.S. aid
  • International concern over Russia’s Sochi Olympics grows after Volgograd bombings

Aftermath of Egypt’s referendum vote will affect U.S. aid

As expected, Egypt’s new constitution has received overwhelmingapproval in a two-day referendum. According to preliminary results,the boycott by Muslim Brotherhood members took its toll, as only 42.2%of registered voters turned out. However, among those who voted,95.2% voted “yes.” The new constitution is thought to be targetingthe Muslim Brotherhood, as it forbids parties “formed on the basis ofreligion, gender, race or geography.” 

After the July 3 military coup that ousted President Mohamed Morsi and hisgoverning coalition one year after he was freely elected, Egypt was ledby army chief Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi. However, after taking power,al-Sisi hand-picked Adly Mansour to be President of Egypt. SinceMansour is a civilian, Egypt’s Foreign Ministry is claiming that Egyptis not under military rule and that it won’t be in the future. 

However, some reports indicate that al-Sisi is a very charming59 year old man and extremely popular with women, despite having awife and four children. It’s believed that al-Sisi is consideringbecoming a civilian and running for president. 

Before the coup, Egypt was receiving $1.5 billion in U.S. aidannually, $1.3 billion of which is designated for the military. Theaid included military equipment, including F-16s. For months, theObama administration carefully refrained from using the word “coup” todescribe Morsi’s ouster, since American law requires aid to be cut offto a country that overthrows a democratically elected leader in acoup. Finally, on October 9, the political pressure became too great,and the administration cut off military aid to Egypt. 

Now that the referendum has passed and Egypt appears to be returning todemocracy, Washington is discussing whether to unfreeze the aid toEgypt. According to a State Dept. spokesman, “It’s also important forthe interim government to foster a positive environment for civilsociety, to protect the rights of political activists and groups, topeacefully respect their views on the country’s future.” Daily News Egypt and AP and AFP

International concern over Russia’s Sochi Olympics grows after Volgograd bombings

In late December, terrorist bombings on two consecutive days which blew up a commuter bus and the inside of the railway station in Volgograd,Russia triggered worldwide concern over security at the 2014 WinterOlympics to be held at the Sochi Black Sea resort on February 6-23.( “31-Dec-13 World View — Another Volgograd explosion throws Russia’s Sochi Olympics into doubt”

Russia is promising that the Sochi Olympics will be the most secureever, despite the threats by Chechen Islamic warlord Doku Umarov,leader of the so-called Caucasus Emirate, to disrupt the “satanic”Olympics with terrorist attacks. Russia emphasizes the billions ofdollars being spent to create a 1,500 mile ring of protection allaround the Sochi area and that it’s imposing extraordinaryrestrictions on anyone hoping to attend the Olympics in person. 

What the Volgograd bombings have done is show that Umarov can stillstrike major targets outside of Sochi, and that doing so raises almostas many international concerns as strikes within the Sochi region. 

In fact, many security analysts say that the Olympics face a highrisk of a jihadist terrorist attack. The problem is that the Sochiregion is mostly wilderness and can’t be entirely protected. Theathletes in the skiing competitions will be particularly vulnerable toterrorist attack, since the ski slopes can be miles long and can’t becompletely protected. 

A threat to the Olympics has come from another direction. Nationalismamong ethnic Russians targeting Muslims from the North Caucasus,Russia’s southern provinces, has been growing for years, resulting inan increasing level of xenophobia between the Orthodox Christianethnic Russians and the Muslim North Caucasians. The Volgogradbombings have triggered nationalist protests in Volgograd, Moscow, andother cities. Opposition rallies coordinated via the socialnetworking site VKontakte attracted more than 50,000 signatories. 

Nationalist pogroms against people from the Caucasus, but sometimestaking in all dark-skinned foreigners as well, have become a frequentoccurrence in Russia over the last eight years. Russian nationalistshave already expressed displeasure about the Sochi Olympics because ofthe astronomical costs and the massive corruption. This nationalistopposition could become violent at any time and represents yet onemore danger to the peacefulness of the Sochi Olympics. Jamestown and Washington Times and CNN

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Egypt, Muslim Brotherhood,Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi, Adly Mansour,Volgograd, Russia, Sochi, Black Sea,Doku Umarov, North Caucasus, VKontakte 

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