The social Matrix

The social Matrix

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Lions Tigers and Sharria? O MY!

  Ever since The UK-based Sharia proponent, Anjem Chodrary attempted to come to America to promote sharia law, Some Americans have been frantic over the non-existent threat of Islamic jurisprudence. Recently, seventy percent of Oklahoma citizens voted for an amendment that would ban the courts from implementing Sharia law. In addition law makers in Tennessee, the same state that experienced contention between Muslims and other Tennesseans over the contentious  Murfreesboros Mosque, has decided to enforce a law that would make it a felony to practice Sharia.

It is within this rich climate of Islamaphobia that North Carolina front runner Newt Gingrich has rang the clarion call against Sharia. 
"a person who belonged to any kind of belief in Sharia, any kind of effort to impose that on the rest of us, would be a mortal thrate to the survival of freedom in the United States and the world."    
  Newt Gingrich said in response to a question about appointing a Muslim as president. Although, Gingrich did acknowledge that a Muslim could become president if he relinquished his association with Sharia. It is the same rhetoric Herman Cain used when he was running for the GOP nomination.

Its politics. The problem is that Muslims don’t have nearly the same amount of political capital Christians have.
Gingrich gives an interesting response given this verse in the Hadiths of Bukhari and Muslim:

“Do not run after an office. If you do so, you would be lost in discharging your duty. However, if an office is assigned to you, God would help and support you.”

I doubt any of the critics of Sharia are versed in Islamic jurisprudence. Most of these critics look at the dismal human rights record throughout the Middle Eastern as a reason to contain the spread of sharia. The truth is that the application of Sharia law is based on the tribal ethnic context from which it is implemented.


  Critics like to use these countries as a yardstick to measure Islam but ignore more moderate countries like Indonesia and Turkey.  During one of Indonesia’s parliamentary elections many Muslim organizations such as the NU, and the Muhamadiyah   focused on issues that united the country and downplayed Islamic fundamentalism. In 2004, the Muslim parties were able to garner a third of the parliamentary votes.  Similarly, the AKP Muslim party in Turkey regulated its position because of the strong secular presence in Turkey.

  The intersection between religion and politics is constantly evolving in Turkey. For example, in 2010 the head of the Religious Affair Department Ayse Sucu  was replaced by  Mehmet Gormez. The liberally-minded Sucu Created a number of initiatives supporting women's rights. On the other hand, the more religious minded Gormez criticized secular activists for protesting the slaughter of millions of sheep for an Islamic holiday.


   Middle Eastern countries like Saudi Arabia are not the only sources of information about Sharia law. Last year Glenn Beck ran a serious of segments warning of the growing Caliphate movement.  On one show Beck discussed a constitution formed by a radical Islamic group which  included Jihad, killing of apostates, and a prohibition on trade with Israel as some of its amendments.  According to Beck, an Islamic state cannot possibly coexist with other religions.

   Beck’s understanding of the Caliphate is lacking.  While critics of Sharia are quick to use Saudi Arabia as a case study, the historical governance of the four Caliphs is ignored. Moreover, Islamic rulers such as Saladin, who was often described by scholars as a man with a “colorful character” and “a man of great warmth and charm,” are also ignored, as well as Sulyeman the Magnificent.  According to the Islamic historical scholar Stephen R. Humphreys:

“We should not assume that the subjects of Muslim autocrats were worse off than their Christian counterparts in Western Europe…In fact European observers of the Middle East as late as the seventeenth century tell us just the opposite.”

I wonder who to believe? A former conservative pundit on Fox News or an Islamic scholar who is even respected by Daniel Pipes?  


  Furthermore Islam is not the only religion to mix with politics. The Bharaatiya Janata Party in India blends Hinduism with politics. Similarly, The Buddhist Sangha in Sri Lanka has played a significant role in the small country’s political sphere.  Also, Islam is not the only religion to serve as an instrument for intolerance in a religiously oriented society. Take for example the influential ultra-religious organization the Haradei in Israel. This group of ultra-orthodox Jews believes that men and women should be kept separate. Young girls are often harassed for simply being members of the opposite sex.  What is the difference between the Wahhabi extremist in Saudi Arabia or the Mullahs from Iran and the Haredi in Israel in this regard.

Of course there is no Christians in America calling for a Christian-governed nation? It would be an outright  contradiction.

   The Muslim Brotherhood and similar Islamic groups aren’t the only religious groups with a political platform. Interestingly, politicians who want to restrict the growth of Sharia law are eager to have the bible supplement the constitution.

“Whereas France, Germany, and Italy permit the formation of a religious party Egypt is proud of the fact it does not have one,” said a member of the violent terrorist organization Islamic Jihad, an organization that believes in using violence against infidels.

Radical groups are eager to point out how the Muslim Brotherhood is still victimized by the Egyptian regime even though they denounce terrorism.

“The legal channels didn’t help them (members of the MB)  from being handcuffed, tried in military courts and dragged to prison.”

The Islamic Response

  Unlike other religious societies political Islam did not emerge out of a vacuum. According to Islamic scholar and terrorism adviser Quintan Wiktorowicz, the marriage between politics and Islam re-emerged because the mosques were one of the few places where political opinions could be expressed openly.  Since 1945 many citizens throughout the Middle East have been victims of brutal regimes such as the Baathists in Syria, the Shah in Iran, and Nasser’s Egypt.

It is quite ironic to note how some Americans are fearful of Sharia law being imposed in America yet conveniently forget how western laws were imposed on citizens throughout the Middle East. Businesses were regulated under the code of Napoleon and courts were staffed by both Europeans and locals in spite of non-Muslims preferences for Sharia law when applied to commerce and trade.

Throughout the Middle East both civil and criminal codes from Beligian, and the Swiss were adopted while simultaneously Sharia was reduced to the realm of private affairs. Most of the rights afforded by the Sharia were eviscerated and replaced by foreign rules. This resulted in the violation of numerous civil rights including arbitrary arrest lengthy detention without charges, torture rigged trials and systematic suppression of democracy.

A more concrete example occurred when Dr. Sa’ad Eddin Ibrahim was arrested simply because he questioned the practice of nepotism within the Mubarack regime.


   It is important to note that even countries like Saudi Arabia have not always been ruled under Sharia law. It was only until 1932 the country became a theocracy. Similarly, Iran did not become a theocracy until the fall of the Shah. The Sharia that is practiced today is a blend of tribalism, patriarchy and politics. Much of the laws governing parts of rural Afghanistan have no basis religious precedent.

   If anything theocratic regimes use Islam to control their populations. For example, criticism of the Monarchy in Morocco can result in imprisonment or fines.Islam has been used as tool to crush dissident movements throughout the Middle East. According to Article 175 of the 1979 Iranian constitution, the media is under the control of the government. A strong example of this is the Khomeini’s education policy.  According to the titular leader the curriculum was reformed to conform to the ideology of the Islamic revolution and to purge out western influences. If Khomeini can control the education policy in Iran who is to say that the supreme leader will not use this power to suppress any criticism of the regime. 

   It is under these pretenses that misunderstandings emerge. One of those misunderstandings is that Sharia law regulates women to sub-ordinated positions in society. A cursory look across the Middle East might support this idea. Reports of women in Saudi Arabia being punished via flogging for leaving without a male relative, or the Taliban in Afghanistan that has forbidden girls to attended school. Perhaps one of the worst forms of abuses on females is honor killing. Yet, the fact is that these misogynistic laws and customs have no basis in Islam.

   In a speech delivered by former Pakistani Prime Minster Benazir Bhutto during her years in exile, Bhutto provided ample evidence that Islam is egalitarian and that it is the Islamic scholars that are distorting the true nature. Both Aisha and Khadija clearly demonstrate the potential for women to play exemplary leadership roles within Islamic society and not to be limited to the household. According to Bhutto the interpretation of Islam is based on patriarchy and tribalism.

  Non-Muslims are also perceived as the victims of Sharia law. Although many religious minorities such as Christians, Buddhists, Jews, and Bahais have been persecuted under Islamic law, despite the fact that there are many verses that suggest Islam is tolerant of other religions.

   With so much ignorance encompassing the debate over Sharia is it any wonder that most of those who vociferously complain of Sharia ignore the fact that most of what the Quran and Hadith states is in contradiction to how Islamic law is practiced throughout the Muslim world. Take for example apostasy, while Glenn Beck is quick to use surah 5:33 which says very little of apostasy yet ignores verses that state “there is no compulsion in religion” and “To you your religion and to me mine.”

  Yet unfortunately the critics are right to some degree. There are incidences of Muslim converts to Christianity being charged with apostasy and sentenced to death. For example, the Taliban has ruled that an Afghanistan man who converted to Christian after working with a Christian relief organization for Afghan refugees should be put to death. This also occurred in Iran despite the fact the men in both cases converted over a decade ago. These are not the only examples.  Another high profile cases involved both Salman Rushdie,  Tujan al_Faisal and Abu Zayd. The latter two were simply convicted for having different views on Islam. 

The connections that Gingrich establishes between Sharia Law and the burning down of Churches by Islamic radicals is weak.

According to the Hadith by Abu Dawud

“In an Islamic State pledge to protect the lives the belongings and honor of all NON_MUSLIM citizen if anyone wrongs them deprives them of their rights oppresses, them or usurps their belongings I would take up these victims case at God’s court.” 

  Notice how the author does define non-Muslims as Jews or Christians but can apply to any religion.

  There are two reasons why this misunderstanding occurs. The first reason is translation. The Quran is written in Arabic, a language that is not native to many countries that practice Islamic law. The second reason is the rate of literacy forces the poor to invest trust in the interpretation of the Quran from the religious leaders.

  As Muslims become more educated they are able to interpret their religion rather than have the scholars interpret it for them. The best way to counter fundamentalist interpretations of Islam is for educated moderate Muslims to challenge the interpretation of Sharia by clerics through the practice of itjihad. Fazlur Rahman implored this technique to argue against polygamy. The goal of Rahman was not to make minor changes but to challenge the underlying understanding of Islamic law, as was the Rasion detre for the Protestant reformation for the Christian world. Religious understanding should not be limited to the ecclesiastical.

  The truth is that Islamic law is just as complicated as any other kind of law. There is more to Sharia law then administering draconian forms of punishment. There are many laws in Islam that regulate economic activity including entering contracts, commerce, property laws which were preferred by Jewish and Christian merchants in the early 19th century because “Decisions made and documents registered in Islamic courts would be fully backed by the authority of the state.” Yet none of the critics have said anything about this.

  What Muslims and non-Muslims should understand is that Islamic law is complicated and includes the Quran and over twenty different books on what the Muhammad said called Hadiths. According to Humphreys "Sharia is not a fixed coded but a vast amphorous, ever changing record of debate. In case of fraud and extortion there is a wide range of ways to punish the guilty." 

  For example, there is a chapter in the Riyad-us-Saliheen that describes the qualities of a just ruler. Interestingly enough the following section describes the “undesirability” of being in positions of authority.

   Furthermore, the Hadith known as the Muslim states that rulers have an obligation treat their citizens with dignity and respect.

  “That ruler who causes hardships to the public would be harshly punished by God. On the contrary, one who is kind and affectionate to his subjects would be blessed with God’s mercy in the Hereafter.”  Another Hadith states that rulers who do not take good care of their citizens would be dragged to hell.
 If the opponents of sharia law want to protest its encroachment on the American judiciary system they should at least understand what it is.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

insturmental hip hop


Friday, January 6, 2012

Failures of the mid-east peace treaties

The force departure of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt has galvanized other countries throughout the Middle East and North Africa to start their own protests. The state of euphoria that swept throughout Egypt after the former ruler’s collapse was so strong that it left the international community mesmerized. Still, the outcome of these protests cannot be easily predicted. One reoccurring theme is the impact that these events will have on Israel.

During these tumultuous times Israel’s peace treaty with both Egypt and Jordan will be put to the test. Originally, the peace treaties between Israel and Jordan and Egypt signaled an end to hostility between these countries. However, with the fall of one of Israel’s few allies in the region coupled with growing protest in Jordan, Israel is ambivalent about its future. In spite of the peace treaties original intent, hostilities still continue to grow among all three countries.

The main reason why animosity still continues to grow is because the economic and political conditions of the Jordanians, Egyptians, and Palestinians have not improved but have become worse since the implementation of the peace treaties.


Since the beginning of Israel’s birth in 1948 the country has been in conflict with it’s Arab neighbors ( Syria , Egypt , Transjordan etc.). The first round of fighting ensued for a few months in 1948.[1] This fighting led to the dispersal of Palestinians to Gaza, West Bank, and Jordan. Conflict between Israel and its neighbors erupted again in 1956 when the socialist leader, Gamal Abdel Nasser sent peasant guerilla groups known as the fedayeen to fight against Israeli settlers in Gaza.

 In an effort to rid Egypt of any colonial remnants the Egyptian leader began a project of nationalization of the Suez Canal, an expedient transportation trading route connecting Europe to Asia. (TIME 2006)  Consequently, Both Britain and France used their military might to protect their colonial interest. However the fighting ended when the emerging superpower of the time, the U.S. intervened and called for all parts to enforce a cease fire.

The next major conflict that further necessitated the role of peace for Israel and its neighbors was the Six Day War in 1967(TIME 2006).  Israel launched the first attack. From the Israeli perspective they attacked first as a preventive measure. From the Arab perspective Israel was engaging in territorial expansionism.

 The tension between Israeli and its Arab states varied. Egypt, still upset at its defeat from Israel 10 years prior, felt it had the capacity to destroy Israel once and for all. While Egypt’s contentions with Israel were based on ideology, Syria’s was a matter of resources. In contrast, Syria’s attacks were in response to Israeli’s National Water Carrier project which diverted water from Jordan for Israeli agricultural needs. Soon an indecisive Jordan, as well as Iraq and Lebanon came to the side of its Arab brethren in fighting against the Jewish state. Jewish victory led to the territorial expansion of Israel into the Syrian Golan Heights, Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, and Jordan’s West Bank and East Jerusalem. (TIME 2006)


 The tension between Egypt and Israel not only created a refugee crisis for Palestinian refugees who lived in the area, but also contributed to the mass departure of Jews from Egypt. From approximately a hundred thousand Jews in Egypt prior to the establishment of the Jewish state in 1948 to a few hundred in 1979 when the peace treaty was sign[2]. Prior to this time there had been tension between Jews and Muslims. During colonial control of Egypt many Egyptians were passed over for jobs that went to foreigners until 1947 when laws were passed to ensure Egyptian employment. One of the consequences of this policy was that it limited the social interaction of Jews and Egyptians (PERETZ 1994).

 Recently, job openings for Egyptians in Israel due to labor shortages have provided new opportunities for Egyptians and Israelis to interact. This migration is even creating small pockets of Egyptian culture throughout Israel. According to Shukri Al-Shazli, head of the Neighbors Association, an Egyptian association based in Israel, there are 6,000-7,000 Egyptians living in Israel legally while an additional 5,000-6,000 settled illegally.[3]

However, despite this seemingly good news, the increased interaction due to immigration among Egyptians and Israelis has caused some backlash. According to a report from Al Jazeera[4] (2010), some politicians in Egypt want to revoke citizenship of Egyptians married to Israelis. For these politicians, Egyptians who are going back and forth between Israel and Egypt could potentially be spies. Israel has also taken steps to limit social mobility. For Israeli officials, the concern is demographics, as more non-Jews settle in Israel the Jewish identity which is at the heart of the Jewish state is in danger. (Saad 2005) It is important to point out that while Egyptian officials view the migration of Egyptians back and forth between Israel and Egypt as a security threat, they conveniently forget the economic benefits. According to a study by the World Bank, Israeli is one of the top ten sources of remittance for Egypt bringing in an estimated $48 million in 2006. Although one of the provisions in the peace treaty allows for the freedom of movement there are still restrictions. One prime example is marriage.  According to a news report from Al Jazeera, there is a controversy stirring in Egyptian courts to deny citizenship to men who are married to Israeli women.  Supporters of the legislation claim that intermarriage undermines Egyptian sovereignty and poses a threat to Egyptians security.   This clearly shows that the diplomatic relationship between these two countries as outlined in the Camp David accords has not promoted peace but instead it has promoted an atmosphere of suspicion.


While the various battles fought with Egypt was one reason to enter a peace treaty with its western neighbor another reason was because of the influence Egypt had in the region. An illustrative example took place when then Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser attempted to unify Syria and Egypt as one state (PERETZ 1994). To the chagrin of Nasser and his followers, the project known as the United Arab Republic failed to gain traction in Syria. After three years the project fell apart and Syria backed out. In addition, Egyptian media outlets such as Radio Cairo were widely popular throughout the capitals of Arab countries, which further contributed to Egypt’s influence in the region. Moreover, Cairo was the capital where Arab officials would congregate to discuss different issues facing the region (PERETZ 1994). Essentially, the logic behind the peace treaty was not just to strengthen the bilateral relationship between Israel and Egypt but it was also meant to provide a model for other Arab countries to follow.  Even today Egypt is looked upon by it citizens as a leader in the developing world.[5]

These events became the impetus for the peace process between Egypt and Israel and later Israel and Jordan. The intentions of the byzantine treaties signed between Egypt and Israel, and later between Jordan, was more than a gesture to end violence between Israel and its two bordering states. The peace treaty with Egypt included UN resolution 242, which states under its preamble that the desire for peace extends to the area in general. The Camp David Accords included economic, culture and migration issues under its mantle. The Jordanian peace agreement included these issues under its framework but also contained topics such as the allocation of natural resources primarily water, and a clause that stipulated that the Palestinian issue would be the joint responsibility of all three countries. Moreover, the Egyptian treaty included the return of Sinai Peninsula, and the freedom for Israel to use the Suez Canal for trade. The Jordanian bilateral peace treaty consisted of detailed stipulations for the use of the Jordan River.  In addition, all three countries were given a substantial amount of aid, both military and civilian, from the United States.


Overall, public opinion of the peace treaties has been mixed.  During its infancy the potential peace between Israel and Egypt has garnered wide support amongst Egyptians.[6] However, recent research conducted after the fall of Mubarak’s regime suggests that support for the peace treaty has dwindled considerably (Haaretz). This comes as no surprise for Daniel Pipes who began to recognize this trend. According to Pipes, (2006) even secular Egyptian organization like Kifaya circulated a petition calling for Egypt to divorce itself from Israel.  

 According to a recent poll taken in Egypt between March 24th and April 7th  only 36 percent of Egyptians look favorably towards the treaty.[7]  The demographic variations that exist in the polling are noteworthy.  Wealthier Egyptians were more open to sustaining peace between Israel. Likewise, Egyptians with more education were also receptive. In addition, Ehud Yaari, a scholar at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy noted that while most of the anger during the recent protests was aimed towards the former Egyptian government, some smaller protest depicted Mubarak as puppet of Israel. Ironically, while some segments of the population were denouncing Israel, others left Egypt and fled to Israel to escape the brutal crackdown during the protests.  In Jordan the harmful effects of the peace treaty has produced negative attitudes towards Jews. In general, Israel’s attempts at diplomacy with Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories have been negatively received by their respected Arabic publics. [8]

Since its implementation, there have been objections to the treaty. Some object to the treaty on religious grounds. Others reject engaging with Israel because of nationalism. Shortly after the signing of the peace treaty with Israel, Egypt’s pro-capitalist leader, Anwar Sadat, was assassinated. In the following decades, Jewish extremists would also respond with violence by killing Israel Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin for making concession to Palestinians during the Oslo Accords. These events show that there is strong opposition to peace (TIME 2006).           


One group in particular that has acted as an obstacle to peace is the Muslim Brotherhood. While the Muslim Brotherhood operated in both the West Bank and Gaza it was the latter rather than the former that posed a potential security threat to Israel.  While the Muslim Brotherhood under Jordanian rule had more political capital in the West Bank than in Egypt, Jordanian members focused on spreading Islam rather than attacking Israel. The Muslim Brotherhood near Gaza had a different goal. The Muslim Brotherhood near Gaza mixed nationalism with religion in an effort to create a formidable enemy against Israel.[9]

Recently, there have been signs that the Muslim Brotherhood has been willing to compromise. According to Shadi Hamid (2011), Director of Research at the Brookings Doha Center, both the Jordanian and Egyptian Brotherhood publicly stated they would respect the peace treaties with Israel. This political calculus is radically different then their Libyan counterparts who refuse to acknowledge the state of Israel’s right to exist. The Islamists in both Jordan and Egypt are becoming increasingly more pragmatic because they realize the positive impact western assistance has on their countries economy as a condition for peace.[10]   Still, despite these concessions, the Muslim Brotherhood’s litmus test for political office (no Christians no women) will alienate a large segment of Egyptian society.[11] It is important to note that not all the resistance comes from radical Muslims but according to one study, Jews with high levels of religiosity were more reluctant to engage in the peace process. [12] 

There are a variety of reasons that caused the shift in attitude towards the peace process. Domestic opposition to the peace treaty from the Arab countries includes issues such as the invasion of Lebanon in the early 80’s, the deportation of Hamas activists in the early 90’s and the bombing of the Iraqi nuclear facilities in 1981. (Kenneth Stein). These activities led Egyptians to believe that Israel was not committed to the peace process. Notwithstanding these issues, Israel has reduced its military expenditure from 23 percent during the peace treaty’s infancy to 9 percent today. Actions by Egyptians have also made Israelis skeptical about Egypt’s true intentions. For example, Yuval Steinitz

estimated that 90 percent of PLO and Hamas explosives come from Egypt. There are even claims that Hamas is launching attacks against Israel from Sinai Peninsula.[13]  This brings up an important point. On the surface, it may appear as though the increase in military spending is being used, intentionally or not, to launch covert attacks against Israel via Hamas and other militant Islamic groups. The truth is that the military is more than a coercive instrument of foreign policy. The military industrial complex in Egypt is deeply entrenched in the economy.[14] In addition to providing jobs and social services for young people the military also produces consumer products, food, and sponsors sporting events. Furthermore, while the defense spending of Egypt may be higher than Israel’s it is important to note that Egypt is the most populated country in the region. The population of Egypt is more than twelve times Israel.[15]


One of the main initiatives of the peace treaties was to use economics as a means to lessen tension. There are vast economic differences between the three countries. Unlike Egypt, a country with a large population and a low per capita GDP and a high rate of rural poverty, both Israel and Jordan have higher rates of foreign direct Investment and export agricultural goods.[16] Jordan uses 10 percent of its land to provide 75 percent of its crops.[17] In contrast, the rise in Egypt’s population has made it a major importer of basic food staples like wheat. Consequently, the Egyptian government uses most of the revenue from the Suez Canal and tourism to maintain food subsidies. (Karan 2004). In addition, while Israel and Jordan have attracted numerous tourist, Egyptian tourism has lost close to $2 billion annually because of terrorism..  Terrorism is not the only threat to tourism, which is one of Egypt’s main sources of income. Another threat is religion. A prominent Islamic leader has issued a fatwa that prohibited statues. Egyptian statues are one of the main attractions that bring in tourists ever year. [18] Also, it should be noted that while tourism for Israelis to Jordan has increased, the number of Egyptians traveling to Israel has decreased (MIRTHA 2008).

Under article two of the Camp David Accords both countries were to undergo policies that would encourage further economic integration, which will lead to economic growth by increasing trade and discouraging policies that are protectionist in nature. To the chagrin of optimists, the implementation of the peace treaty is not benefiting the Egyptian public. For example, charges of corruption have become an obstacle for increasing gas exports to Egypt. This is important given the fact that Egypt supplies 40 percent of Israel’s Natural Gas. (INTERNATINAL DEBATES 2011) In addition, there is some evidence to suggest that economic aid is used to secure political patronage rather than help those unemployed. A concrete example of this is Egypt’s aforementioned military industrial complex. Corruption, coupled with growing distrust between Israel and Egypt’s public has created an atmosphere of instability which has led to less economic integration.

The problem in Egypt specifically is that the peace treaty created a new form of political patronage system between the business elite and the Mubarak regime. For example, while Mubarak and his family have amassed a large fortune, economic opportunities for the youth have diminished. The rate of collegiate matriculation has quadrupled recently, whereas the supply of jobs has remained steady. Moreover, budget cuts, which included programs for college graduates to find jobs, further frustrated college students. In this context, the likelihood of an Egyptian with an elementary education having a job was much higher than a college graduate.[19]  In addition, social programs that focus on job placement for college graduate have been cut from the budget making it much more difficulty for college graduates to find work which further limited economic prospects.

While Jordan and Egypt have been applauded for improving macro-economic indicators such as GDP the general society has not benefited. The wave of privatization that swept throughout Egypt in particular benefited a select few. The economic reforms that accompanied these growing trends did nothing to help the people. Governmental agencies that encouraged competition and tried to prevent monopolies from forming were not taken seriously by the business elite. The lack of participation in the economy is clearly visible in Egypt when businesses and exporters were encouraged to submit proposals to the Ministry of Foreign Trade only to find out later their ideas were rejected. In addition, those whose voices are heard tend to be from big companies who are not interested in the opinion of smaller businesses. Another example is the Egyptian Business Association which has been criticized for its high standards which limits input from businesses that are not a part of the political patronage system.

Likewise, there are signs that the economic relationship with Jordan is beginning to decline.[20]  One concrete example of this problem is the objections from the professional associations. These organizations wield considerable influence in terms of employment. In Jordan, it is required for anyone who is in a profession to register with a professional association. Professional associations can revoke membership if an individual appears to be sympathetic to the peace process. Although any dismissal can be challenged by the Higher Courts of Justice, the reputation of the person who was dismissed is tarnished in the business community.

Supporters of the peace treaty in Jordan often shop at local markets that supply Israeli fruits and vegetables. Merchants who are wary of the stigma attached to Israeli imports will remove the tag that states the product was made in Israel. It is also interesting to note that although many Arab countries boycott Israeli products, some Israeli companies use Jordan as a means to gain access to a larger Arab market. One concern many Jordanians businesses have is transportation inefficiency. When a Jordanian truck stops at the border of Israel and Jordan, goods get transferred from the Jordanian truck to the Israel truck as a security measure. Jordanians complain that this system restricts the mobility of goods which drives up cost. Another issue is regulation. Under Israeli law, any Jordanian good needs to be tested in Israel then in a Jordanian lab before it is acceptable for consumption. Israel argues that it does not accredit laboratories because of the anti-Israeli policies of the professional associations (MIRTHA 2010).

In addition, Jordanians object to Israel use of quotas, VAT and custom tariffs when trading with each other. Jordanians also feel that it is harder to compete with Israel companies because of the quality of the product is of a higher standard at the same price. Israel counters Jordanian objections by stating that some Israeli companies have closed domestic production and have moved instead to Jordanian as a sign of peace.

One attempt to integrate the region and grow the economy came from Europe in 1995 when it began the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership. The bilateral trade agreement between the Arab Mediterranean and Europe rewards Arab countries by providing aid, investment, access to European markets and loans. Since the project began Europe has given 5 billion dollars to help. In the near future the U.S. wants to begin a regional trading block in the Middle East (Balaam and Veseth 2008).

Another attempt to sustain peace through economic means was through the qualified Industrial Zones (QIZ) program. It was a program established under the Israeli-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (FTA). The specific goal of the program was to promote economic cooperation through foreign direct investment. Jordan would contribute its labor force and Israel would contribute by way of high technology to produce goods and export them to America (MIRTHA 2010).

One issue particular to Jordan is water usage. Article three of the peace treaty posits several stipulations such as joint protection of the Jordan River from pollution, and fair use of the Yarmouk Rivers. Under Article Four of the peace treaty, Jordan is obligated to fix any well in need of repair while Israel supplies Jordan with technical information. Although there are some objections on how water is managed between the two countries,  Jordanians feel that Israel has been more cooperative than Syria, a country that has been reluctant to help Jordan when it had water shortages. (MIRTHA 2010)

Although economic integration, as articulated in the peace treaties posed their own unique problems, another major point of contention are the political consequences in Egypt and Jordan after the treaties were signed.  Some Egyptians feel as though the former regime uses the peace treaty as a vehicle to launch an attack on all forms of dissidence through arbitrary arrest and detention. In other words, some view the peace treaty as a symbol of political repression. Although much of the foreign aid Egypt receives was crucial to improving its infrastructure, roads, water purification plants, it was not accompanied by democratic reform (KARAN 2004). The economic incentives for peace simultaneously produced a series of economic reforms and political amendments that restricted freedom.[21] A prime example is Article 179 that allows the president to imprison suspected terrorist without any recourse for an appeal. It is not just suspected terrorists who are affected but even peaceful dissidents are often targeted by the regime. One tactic that the Mubarak regime has used to control the influence of the Muslim brotherhood is to arrest some of its prominent members. Once arrested, these leaders are arrested and imprisoned they legally prevented from running for office (INTERNATIONAL DEBATES 2011) “In short, the coupling of economic and political reforms meant that economic liberalization was institutionalized at the same time that political rights were constrained.”  (Saif & Choucair page 130).


Ironically, some have fled to Israel to escape the political instability in Egypt even though some have linked the political problems to Egypt with the peace treaty.[22]  In one extreme case, an Egyptian citizen fled to Israel after he was tortured, put into jail for ten years without access to a lawyer. Under the Mubarak regime only those who are rich or are socially connected to the security forces are afforded social justice.  (Cohen Nir)

Jordanians have also encountered political problems in the aftermath of the peace treaty as well. As a consequent of the peace treaty the King grew increasingly autocratic and put restrictions on Islamists entering the political arena. Prior to the peace treaty the distribution of power between Parliament and the government was even. However, a few years after the peace treaty was signed political participation became a luxury for a select few.

While the political environment in both Jordan and Egypt provide fertile ground for hostility against anything enabling their regimes (i.e. the peace treaties), another reason for the shift in attitude comes from both the media and statements issued by governmental officials. For example, following the 1987, intifada the Egyptian media portrayed Israel as genocidal and oppressive. In one instance, the Egyptian media has accused Israel of spreading AIDS and using educational institutions as spying outposts. The Egyptian media’s relationship with Israel was further strained when Al-Ahram banned interaction between Egyptian journalists and Israelis in response to the Israeli attack on Gaza. (internet link). Statements from right-wing Israeli politicians, like Avigdor Lieberman, have created an environment of mistrust between countries. Lieberman has said that if war were to break out between Egypt and Israel that Israel would be justified in bombing the Aswan Dam.[23]  The presence of Right wing Israeli officials and anti-Israeli Arabs is creating an environment of distrust that is toxic to the peace process.


The last concern is the Palestinian refugees. The Palestinian territory is defined as the Gaza Strip on the west and the West bank on the East. In short, the Palestinians are restricted from immigrating to Israel, a state that wants to maintain its Jewish identity, and to Egypt, a country that is aware of its burgeoning population. For Jordan, it is also an issue of identity. Currently, 35 percent of the population in Jordan is Palestinian (MIRTHA 2010). One issue particularly to Palestinians that has been a thorn to the peace process is the use of the military court system to control the Israel population (VESSETH & BAALAM 2008). In addition, the lack of economic activity due to restrictions on labor movement coupled with low levels of international integration in the world economy has devastated Gaza’s economy.

It is important to understand that although Israel deserves much criticism when it comes to the Palestinian issue both Egypt and Jordan are not exonerated from blame either. According to Sara Roy, Omar Soliman, a high ranking Egyptian official, said that he does not want the people from Gaza to starve but to ‘go hungry.[24]’ This information is truly revealing given the fact that food insecurity increased from 40 percent in 2003 to 61 percent by the end of 2010.  In other words, approximately 900,000 Palestinians out of 1.5 million are malnourished. Likewise, Jordan’s relationship with the Palestinians has not always been amicable either. Jordanian tension with Palestinians dates back to the September attacks when Palestinians waged war against Hashemite kingdom (TIME 2006). In addition, it is harder for Palestinians living in both Jordan and Israel to compete with lower paid Asian workers (VESSETH & BAALAM 2008). The freedom of movement clause within the Egyptian treaty as well as portions of the Jordanian treaty shows that Palestinian rights are important for peace. If Palestinian self-determination is a strong indicator of the success of these treaties then what the evidence shows is that the treaties are failing.

The resistance to cooperate between Israelis, Egyptians, Jordanians, and Palestinians has proven to be disastrous. While there have been cosmetic reforms in the name of peace there is still much to be done.  Full economic integration would increase Israeli household income by $4,429, Egypt’s “peace dividend” (a measure that calculates the economic benefits of integration) would begin at $1.8 billion in 2011 and rise to $17.3 billion by 2015. Even Saudi Arabia would benefit economically from $3.6 billion in 2011 to $52.5 billion by 2015 (MIRTHA 2010). From the standpoint of realism the fact that none of the countries that signed the peace treaties with Israel have gone to war with Israel indicate the peace treaty was a success. Notwithstanding realism’s myopic perspective on this issue, the theory of complex interdependence demonstrates the failures of these formal agreements. Despite the consequences of the peace treaty both Jordanians and Egyptians should try to further cement their relationship with Israel. One specific reason why this relationship is beneficial for Jordan and Egypt is because it will give the two countries access to Israel professionals who have high level of education capital (scientist, engineers etc) (VASSETH & BAALAM).  In order for the trilateral peace agreements between the countries to become a beacon of stability and prosperity in the region, there needs to be more of an emphasis on public participation rather than state interests.  Consequently, this paradigm shift will transform the region from a toxic atmosphere of mistrust and animosity to an economically vibrant region based on mutual cooperation and understanding.


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[1] Time (2006) The Middle East; The history, The Culture the conflicts The Faiths

[2] Peretz, D (1994). The Middle East Today Praeger, Westport

[3] Saad. R (2005) An Unlikely Homeland Al-Ahram issue # 758

[4] Inside Story; Egypt-Israeli Relations (2010) Al-Jazeera Accessed via YouTube

[5] The Future of Egypt; Panel Discussion (2006) The Middle East Review of International Affairs Vol. 10, No.3 Article 3

[6] Vatikiotis, P.J. (1992). The History of Modern Egypt (4th edition ed.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University

[7] Associated Press (2007) Poll:More than half of Egyptians want to cancel peace treaty. Haaaretz

[8] Pipes D (2006) Time to Recognize Failure of Israel-Egypt Treaty New York Sun

[9] Wikitorowicz (2004) Islamic Activism; A Social Movement Theory Approach Bloomington, Indiana University Press pp 120-121. 72-75

[10] Hamid, S (2011) The Rise of the Islamists. Foreign Affairs Vol. 90 No.3 pg. 40-47

[11] U.S.-Egyptian Relations (2011) International Debates Vol. 9 Issue 3 p14-23

[12] Tibon,S, Blumberg, H.H. (1999) Authoritarianism and Political Socialization in the Context of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, Political Psychology, Vol 20, No. 3

[13] Yaari E(2011) The Arab Revolutions: An Israeli Perspective. The Washington Institute for Near East Policy

[14] U.S.-Egyptian Relations(2011) International Debates Vol. 9 Issue 3 p14-23

[15] CIA World fact book

[16] Balaam, D.N., Vesseth. M (2008). Introduction to International Political Economy, Pearson, Jersey.

[17] Karan, P.P. (2004) The Non-Western World. New York , Routledge.

[18] The Future of Egypt; Panel Discussion (2006) The Middle East Review of International Affairs Vol. 10, No.3 Article 3

[19] Goldstone, J.A. (2011) Understanding the Revolution of 2011 Foreign Affairs Vol. 90. No.3 pg.8-16

[20] Mirtha. F (2010). “The Jordanian-Israeli Relationship; The Reality of “Cooperation.” Middle East Policy, Vol XXII No.2

[21] Saif, I & Choucair, F (2010) Status Quo Camouflaged: Economic and Social Transformation. Middle East Law and Governance pg,124-151

[22] Saad. R (2005) An Unlikely Homeland Al-Ahram issue # 758

[23] A Chillier Peace: Thirty years after the peace treaty, Egypt and Israel are only friends, (2009) The Economists

[24] R. Sarah (2011). Gaza after the Revolution. Foreign Policy