World View: Egypt’s al-Sisi Calls for a Joint Arab Military Force

Abdel Fattah al-Sisi
(AP Photo/ Maxim Shemetov

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Deadly MERS virus surging early in Saudi Arabia
  • India has worst H1N1 swine flu outbreak in years
  • Egypt’s al-Sisi calls for a joint Arab military force
  • Armenia’s president sends condolence letter to Egypt’s al-Sisi

Deadly MERS virus surging early in Saudi Arabia

Pictogram: MERS health advisory (CDC)
Pictogram: MERS health advisory (CDC)

World health officials are concerned about a new outbreak of MERS-CoV (the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus) in Saudi Arabia that has killed 17 people in the last 11 days, including six on one day on Thursday of last week. Although the outbreak is still small, officials are concerned because it is surging much earlier this year than last year. An international team of United Nations human and animal health experts has flown to Saudi Arabia to investigate the recent surge.

Since June 2012, the deadly virus has claimed 382 lives out of 899 infections. There are currently 29 people being treated at various health facilities across the Kingdom.

Last year, there was a great deal of concern that MERS would be spread around the world by millions of people who came to Mecca on October 2-7, 2014, for the Hajj, their once in a lifetime pilgrimage. Saudi officials took numerous precautions, with the result that apparently no new MERS cases occurred from the Hajj.

This year the Hajj is a little earlier, September 20-25, so all those precautions will have to be repeated and increased. Arab News and Reuters

India has worst H1N1 swine flu outbreak in years

This season’s outbreak of H1N1 swine flu in India has so far sickened more than 11,000 people, and killed 703, the worst outbreak since 2009. As of February 11, there were 5,157 reported cases, so the number of reported cases more than doubled in 8 days. Times of India and Bloomberg

Egypt’s al-Sisi calls for a joint Arab military force

Egypt’s president Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi on Sunday appeared in a nationwide television address in which he called on all Arab nations to join together to create a joint military force to fight terrorism.

This call comes a week after ISIS-linked terrorists posted a video of the massacre of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians in the town of Sirte in neighboring Libya. “16-Feb-15 World View — Egypt in mourning as ISIS-linked terrorists kill Coptic Christians in Libya” The attack itself was a shock to all of Egypt, and triggered an immediate response ordered by al-Sisi for air strikes on the assets of the terrorist group, Ansar al-Sharia, that perpetrated the massacre.

Another shock occurred when Egypt received almost none of the international sympathy that Jordan received after its pilot was killed by the Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh), with even the U.S. and European administrations cool to Egypt’s plight. Then Qatar criticized the Egyptian air strikes, reopening the bitter rift between Egypt and Qatar, and causing the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to side with Qatar in order to prevent the rift from worsening. It may be that the only major power that sympathized with Egypt was Israel.

The chaos in Libya has the potential of further worsening the Arab rift. There are two competing governments in Libya, one in Tripoli considered to be Islamist, and one internationally recognized government in Tobruk in the west. There have been reports, denied by Qatar, that Qatar is siding with the Islamist government, and has been supplying weapons to Ansar al-Sharia. Whether that is true or not, the continuing deterioration in Libya is threatening to worsen an already overwhelming situation with refugees crossing the Mediterranean for Italy.

There have been unconfirmed reports in the past of discussions of a military pact between Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Kuwait. These discussions now appear to be on tract, with Jordan and Algeria joining, and with France and Italy also joining, because of the refugee danger to Europe. The National (UAE) and Al Ahram (Cairo) and Jerusalem Post

Armenia’s president sends condolence letter to Egypt’s al-Sisi

The President of the Republic of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan has sent a letter of condolence to Egypt’s president Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi. The letter said, “During this difficult time of grief and sorrow, I express my full support for you, the friendly people of Egypt and for the relatives of the victims, wishing them steadfastness and strong spirit.”

Looking at the Mideast checkerboard, Egypt and Armenia have Turkey as a common enemy. Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been bitterly critical of Egypt’s 2013 coup that overthrew Mohamed Morsi, and Turkey and Armenia have been embroiled in a century-long disagreement over whether Turkey committed a genocide of Armenians in 1915. Turkey is also a close ally of Qatar, and an enemy of Israel. Armen Press (Armenia)

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Saudi Arabia, Hajj, India, H1N1, Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus, MERS-CoV, Egypt, Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi, Libya, Ansar al-Sharia, Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria/Sham/the Levant, IS, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh, Qatar, Gulf Cooperation Council, GCC, Jordan, Israel, Turkey, Algeria, France Italy, Armenia, Recep Tayyip Erdogan
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