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Israel's Intelligence Assessment Before the Yom Kippur War: Disentangling Deception and Distraction, by Aryeh Shalev

“The author of this study was director of the Israeli Defense Force’s Intelligence Research Department in 1973, when Israel failed to see that Egypt and Syria were preparing for war. He has written this book – another version of which was published in Hebrew in 2006 – in order to refute the decision of the Agranat Commission, set up in the wake of the war, to blame him for this expensive intelligence failure and call for his dismissal. He shows that preparations by Egyptian and Syrian forces were closely followed on the days leading up to the war, but the intentions of enemy leaders were not known until the morning before the attack, and Israeli political leadership’s commitment to certain security concepts caused it to misread what was about to occur. Shalev identifies errors, including a misunderstanding of the Egyptian president’s personality, which contributed to the failure, and he suggests ways of avoiding similar mistakes. This solid though repetitive study, based on written assessments coming from the Research Department before war, will be useful to students of the Arab–Israeli conflict and of intelligence assessment in general. Recommended.”  —Choice

 

Brigadier General (ret.) Aryeh Shalev served in the Israel Defense Forces from the War of Independence until 1976, filling many senior command positions. For much of his service he worked in intelligence, and for seven years served as the head of the Research Department within Military Intelligence. His final posting in the IDF was commander of the Judea and Samaria area. In 1978 he joined the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies, later incorporated as the Institute for National Strategic Studies.

 

Google Books for extensive previews: https://www.google.com/search?tbo=p&tbm=bks&q=isbn:1845193709

Martin Kramer's insight:

I knew Shalev (who passed away in 2011), as we worked on the same floor at Tel Aviv University. The Choice review is a bit unfair: Shalev never dodged his responsibility for the debacle. But he was hardly alone in thinking that the Agranat Commission gave the political leadership a pass (and that its members weren't competent to understand what goes into intelligence assessments).

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The True Nature of a Coup Revealed, by Fouad Ajami

The True Nature of a Coup Revealed, by Fouad Ajami | Middle East Collections | Scoop.it

It is an uncomfortable truth: Dictatorship often rests on a measure of consent. A people acquiesce in their own servitude, forge their own chains.

 

An ordinary man obliges, and the crowd projects on him its need for a redeemer. Forgive Egypt's Gen. Abdul Fattah Sissi his flagrant political transgressions—the sacking in July of a legitimately elected president. The secular crowd, all those good and decent liberals, were clamoring for military intervention.

 

Young rebels who had come together to topple the old Mubarak dictatorship now conspired with the military and police to overthrow the first elected civilian ruler in Egyptian history. It was odd. Men and women who had given military dictatorship decades of obedience and indulgence were now driven by a spirit of impatience with the soldiers.

 

Some of the leading men of the realm were on hand when Gen. Sissi—hitherto unknown, promoted by Mohammed Morsi himself over more senior colleagues in the army—announced the end of the Morsi presidency. On Wednesday, Mohamed ElBaradei, one of the luminaries who had been tasked with giving the coup a liberal cover abroad, at least had the decency to call it quits and distance himself from the violence unleashed by the security forces on the supporters of Mr. Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood.

 

Mr. ElBaradei's resignation from the vice presidency came quickly on the heels of that brutal action. "It has become difficult for me to hold responsibility for decisions I do not agree with, whose consequences I fear," he said. "I cannot be responsible for one drop of blood in front of God, and then in front of my conscience, especially with my belief that we could have avoided it."

 

In truth, there was no avoiding the bloodshed. It was willful to assume that the Brotherhood would go gently into the night—that a political party that had pined for power for eight long decades, that had won outright parliamentary and presidential elections and secured the passage of a constitution of its own making, would bow to a military writ. No one who followed the official media, who observed erstwhile decent thinkers give themselves over to a new belligerence and venom, would have been surprised by the bloodshed.

Egyptians have always prided themselves on their peaceful temperament. Their country was not Iraq or Syria or Algeria. They had seemed confident that blood would not be spilled in their midst. But vengeance stalked their country in the year of the Morsi presidency.

 

National chauvinism was unleashed, and the dream of an Egypt without beards and veils took hold. There was in the land a clash of two fundamentalisms, it seemed—the utopia of the Muslim Brotherhood, and the modernist conceit that the reign of the Brotherhood was foisted on a sophisticated, progressive country.

 

The crowd that gave the coup its blessing ran away from the reality of their homeland—the crippling poverty, the illiteracy, the dispossessed who saw in Mohammed Morsi, a peasant's son, one of their own. And in their willful escape and evasion, those who cheered the military seizure of power were willing to entertain the darkest of conspiracies.

 

The rise of the Brotherhood was an American plot, they maintained, part of an American scheme to subjugate Egypt and deny it its place among the nations. Political Islam itself was disowned, turned into an American creation. 

 

Mohammed Morsi had kept the peace with Israel, brokered an accommodation between Hamas and Israel: This, too, became proof of this malignant American design.

 

The rule of reason had quit Egypt. Under the old regime, Egyptians came to believe everything and nothing as their military rulers took them out of political life, denied them the chance to participate in the making of their own history. The stridency, the violence with which they pronounced on political matters in the year behind us, issued out of this damage to the culture sustained in the years of authoritarianism.

 

In truth, patience could have served the Egyptians. There was no urgency for a coup d'état. Mr. Morsi had the presidency, but the army was beyond his control, the police was a law unto itself, and the judiciary a truculent citadel of the old regime. The feloul, the remnants of the old regime, still had the commanding heights of the economy.

 

The Brotherhood had sown its own poor seeds, and the bloom was off that Islamist plant. The Islamist project was in retreat, but the pace of history had to be forced, and the Brotherhood had to be put to flight. A frenzy came to surround Abdul Fattah Sissi: He was the reincarnation of the beloved strongman Gamal Abdul Nasser. He would sack the Brotherhood and then return to the barracks.

 

Thus would the great schism in Egypt, the fight over the place of Islam in public life, be papered over. The army would give the secularists the victory that eluded them at the ballot box.

 

The two pro-Morsi encampments that the Brotherhood and its supporters put up in Cairo had to be stormed. The crowds that overturned Messrs. Mubarak and Morsi had once owned Tahrir Square, had brought the life of the country to a standstill. Their agitation and flamboyance had become the stuff of legend, and the army itself had paid tribute to the protesters. No such regard was to be shown the Islamists.

 

In this Egyptian drama, the United States did not give the best of itself. When the Obama administration could not call the coup d'état by its name, we put on display our unwillingness to honor our own democratic creed. Egypt has long been in the American strategic orbit. When our secretary of state opined that the army was "restoring democracy," we gave away the moral and strategic incoherence of an administration that has long lost its way.

 

Mr. Ajami is a senior fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution and the author most recently of "The Syrian Rebellion" (Hoover Press, 2012).

 

A version of this article appeared August 15, 2013, on page A15 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: The True Nature of a Coup Revealed.

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Gen. Abdul Fatah Al-Sisi‬, 2013

“The armed forces was the one to first announce that it is out of politics,” General Sisi said at the start. “It still is, and it will remain away from politics...” http://nyti.ms/18ybzET

Martin Kramer's insight:

...and listen to the echo.

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Karl reMarks: Fashion Alternatives to Sykes–Picot

Karl reMarks: Fashion Alternatives to Sykes–Picot | Middle East Collections | Scoop.it

Everybody knows that the Sykes-Picot agreement which divided the Middle East between Britain and France produced a messy reality. Below are neater versions inspired from the world of fashion.

Martin Kramer's insight:

The "reMarkable" Karl Sharro is fascinated by speculation on the end of the Sykes-Picot map of the Middle East, and suggests a number of alternative maps, inspired (well, why not?) by fashion.

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The Watchman Fell Asleep: The Surprise Of Yom Kippur And Its Sources, by Uri Bar-Joseph

Based on many formerly undisclosed intelligence and military documents, the secret protocols of discussions on the eve of the war, and interviews with relevant figures, The Watchman Fell Asleep is a compelling account of Israel’s intelligence failure before the 1973 Arab attack known as the Yom Kippur War. The Hebrew version of this book was awarded the Tshetshik Prize for Strategic Studies on Israel’s Security in 2001, and the Israeli Political Science Association’s Best Book Award in 2002. Available here in English for the first time, Uri Bar-Joseph has crafted an authoritative explanation of the most traumatic event in Israel’s stormy history and one of the biggest strategic military surprises of the twentieth century.

 

Uri Bar-Joseph is Professor of International Relations at Haifa University. He is the author of Intelligence Intervention in the Politics of Democratic States: The United States, Israel, and Britain and The Best of Enemies: Israel and Transjordan in the War of 1948.

 

Amazon for extensive preview. Searchable also at Google Books: 

https://www.google.com/search?tbo=p&tbm=bks&q=isbn:0791464814

Martin Kramer's insight:

Uri Bar-Joseph is the leading academic authority on the subject, and this book is the most thorough scholarly account, including a detailed day-by-day narrative of Israeli intelligence in the lead-up to the war.

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Gen. Mohamed Naguib, 1952

"Throughout this past week, the Army leader has reiterated that he has no intention of interfering in political matters—these are the affairs of the new Prime Minister—and that he is interested only in cleansing out corruption and graft in the armed forces and government…" http://bit.ly/naguib

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Play both of these clips simultaneously...

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