Ma cousine Condoleezza de Mahmoud Shukair Kazhem Ali ne laisse personne s'asseoir sur le siège avant de son taxi parce que c'est la place de son idole Ronaldo. Abd-el Ghaffar veut créer un comité pour faire taire les chiens errants. Nômane " le cinglé " rêve d'épouser Nahla, et Nahla voudrait échapper à cette galerie d'imbéciles... Ecrivain et journaliste, Mahmoud Shukair met en scène, dans ce recueil de nouvelles et de poèmes en prose, des Palestiniens qui se cherchent, avec un brin de folie, dans une société ballottée par ses contradictions, microcosme villageois où les grandes guerres se transforment en petites batailles du quotidien. Les personnalités publiques subissent aussi des transformations. " Shakira " devient " Shakoura ", " Moustafa'annan " sonne mieux que " Kofi Annan ", et Naomi Campbell devient la fille du commis boulanger " Ne'meh Kamel ". Nous voici perdus dans les réseaux d'un gigantesque téléphone arabe. Tandis que la planète entière regarde cette région du monde, le nouvelliste renverse les situations. Cette vision de l'intérieur est à la fois comique et bouleversante : le regard de nos Palestiniens sur le monde sent un peu le renfermé. Ma cousine Condoleezza offre une tendre caricature de la situation régionale et mondiale. Leïla Pailhès Traduit de l'arabe par Stéphanie Dujols, éd. Sindbad, 154 p.
Links from my del.icio.us account for October 29th through October 30th:
- In Mauritania, a TV talk show with consequences | Menassat - Mauritanian politician and TV presenter arrested and charged after criticizing junta.
- El Khabar | La Constitution Algérienne sera bel et bien révisée - Algeria's Bouteflika decides to "allow the people to enjoy their right to choose their president and to renew their trust in him" - i.e. change the constitution to allow him a third term. Remind you of anyone's reasons for not imposing term limits?
- Forensic economists examine the effects of CIA-led coups on the stock market. - By Ray Fisman - Slate Magazine - Insider trading and coups - great reading.
- allAfrica.com: Egypt: Ruling Party in Free Fall - The headline is rather misleading, but this piece has an overview of the recent scandals that have hit senior NDP members and of public skepticism about its upcoming conference.
- Six Questions for Kent Moors on Saudi Economic Problems, American Foreign Policy and the Future of Oil—By Ken Silverstein (Harper's Magazine) - "About 18 months ago, the Saudis started moving their dollar denominated investments out of U.S. sovereign bonds and into Collateralized Debt Obligations, Collateralized Mortgage Obligations, and Structured Investment Vehicles. They did that to increase their return on investment because of their budget squeeze, but they invested themselves right into the credit crunch. They own a lot of paper based on mortgages and other sorts of credit bridges, the values of which have plummeted."
- Through the Glasses Darkly -- In These Times - Slavoj Zizek references my favorite John Carpenter movie, "They Live," to examine the Republicans' strategy.
- EGYPT: New book captures a nation's angst - On hit book “Egypt Is Not My Mother, She's My Father's Wife”, latest in Zaat/Yacoubian/Taxi mold
- Death and Taxes 2009: A Visual Guide to Where Your Federal Tax Dollars Go - WallStats - Amazing inforgraphic on how US military budget is spent
This is an actual sentence from a CNN report on Sarah Palin attacking Barack Obama over his relationship with eminent Palestinian scholar Rashid Khalidi:
Khalidi has been a stern critic of United States foreign policy towards Israel and has accused the country of “occupying” Palestinian territories, but he has denied acting as a spokesman for the PLO.How dare Khalidi suggest that Israel may be "occupying" (let's use quote marks to underline the outrageousness of it all) Palestinian territories? As Philip Weiss says, this is the result of the disastrous effect of the Israel lobby and the skittishness with which US media approach the issue. But I'm sure Wolf Blitzer, former AIPAC lobbyist, will look into that. Incidentally, the Khalidi business does make Obama look bad - it along with other decisions to distance himself from former friends makes him look like he's opportunistic and ready to dump his friends at the drop of a hat. On a related note: Joe the Zionist.
Links from my del.icio.us account for October 28th through October 29th:
- Washington Times - GOULDEN: Eddy and the Mideast - Story of arabist spy Bill Eddy.
- Harvard Iranian Oral History Project Harvard University - Personal recordings from the 1920s to the 1980s from Iran.
- Welcome to POMED’s Country Pages Project | Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) - POMED launches "country pages" covering Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey and Morocco.
- The Israel Lobby Archive - Very interesting historical documents tracking the history of the Israel lobby in the United States, notably previously confidential material from the 1960s. Bookmark it!
- U.S. Mulls Talks With Taliban in Bid to Quell Afghan Unrest - WSJ.com - Petraeus backs initiative to talk to "moderate" Taliban, driving a wedge with "irreconciliable" elements.
- Egypt sheikh backs women's right to beat husbands - Middle East Times - First all the wife-swapping, now this...
Links from my del.icio.us account for October 27th:
- The Al-Qaida We Don't Know: The Limits of the Counterterrorism Approach - Nathan Field advocates a less polisci, more humanities approach to understanding Islamist terrorist groups like al-Qaeda.
- Alger censure, avant sa parution, un livre "infamant" de Mohamed Benchicou - Afrique - Le Monde.fr - Algeria bans Mohamed Benchicou's latest book, accuses him among other things of anti-Semitism (against Nicolas Sarkozy). Benchicou had previously written a vitriolic bio of Bouteflika. [French, subs]
- Lebanon's Hariri, Nasrallah hold rare meeting - Yahoo! News - Weather, sports discussed in between uneasy silences
- “‘Exporting’, ‘Spreading’, or ‘Supporting’ Middle East Democracy” - POMED notes on Michele Dunne and James Traub's discussion of US democracy promotion, with special emphasis on Egypt and Pakistan [PDF]
- Chaos theory - The National Newspaper - Fawaz Gerges reviews Olivier Roy's latest
- AFP: Egypt police slammed over wife-swap scandal - EIPR courageously takes up "wife-swappers" privacy violation case
Links from my del.icio.us account for October 25th through October 27th:
- Egypt fines broadcaster that aired Mubarak protest - Reuters.com - Cairo news fined $27,000 for broadcasting Mahalla protest
- Saudi Arabia and al-Qaeda trials | The struggle against al-Qaeda | The Economist - Saudi shifts gear from co-option to trial in handling of its jihadists
- Zionism at 60 | Jewish and democratic | The Economist - A staunchly Zionist book review - wrong, but smart.
- Israel’s Mixed Cities on Edge After Riots - Forward.com" - Legal discrimination against Arabs in Israel likely to fuel more Jewish-Arab riots
- Coroner’s inquest to study suspected spy’s death - BostonHerald.com - More on Ashraf Marwan
Links from my del.icio.us account for October 22nd through October 25th:
- Christopher Ketcham: An Israeli Trojan Horse - More on Israel's cornering of high-tech surveillance market in US, relationship with NSA
- Is Israel's booming high-tech industry a branch of the Mossad? - Haaretz - The NSA - Israeli high tech connection
- Al-Ahram Weekly | Opinion | MB goes rural - Very interesting column by MB-watcher Hossam Tammam on the ruralization of the MB's leadership.
- LobeLog.com » Blog Archive » Top Obama Adviser Signs on to Roadmap to War with Iran - More on Ross-Obama relationship, Ross' role in hawkish Iran plan
- Dennis Ross on why he's working for Obama and how he'd talk to Iran - Haaretz - Israel News - SecState, personal envoy to Iran positions considered for Ross under Obama
- An End to Dubai's Building Boom? | Newsweek.com - Dubai is heavily leveraged: "A recent Moody's report found that Dubai's leverage now exceeds its GDP, and is likely to continue to outpace growth for another five years."
- Desperate Egyptians commit suicide after financial loss - "Last week, Ahmed Nasreddin Abdelaal, an electrical equipment salesman in his fifties and a small-time stock market investor, committed suicide after a huge loss on the exchange."
- Middle East Analyst » Blog Archive » Has Nasrallah Been Poisoned? - Conspiracy theory...
- Ultraconservative Islam on Rise in Mideast - On the growing popularity of contemporary salafism
Pakistan plans to arm tens of thousands of anti-Taliban tribal fighters in its western border region in hopes -- shared by the U.S. military -- that the nascent militias can replicate the tribal "Awakening" movement that proved decisive in the battle against al-Qaeda in Iraq. The militias, called lashkars, will receive Chinese-made AK-47 assault rifles and other small arms, a purchase arranged during a visit to Beijing this month by Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, Pakistani officials said.Do you really want to pump in tons of small arms into an area of great lawlessness and tribal rivalry?
B. A. et P. D. - Dans quel état d'esprit avez-vous grandi ?
G. M. - Comme beaucoup de mes compatriotes, j'ai su très vite, enfant déjà, ce que signifiait être fils de militaire. Mon père était officier de l'armée égyptienne. J'ai appris le sens de l'honneur et j'en connais plus que jamais la portée aujourd'hui. Je voudrais ajouter que ma génération est composée de milliers d'Égyptiens qui, comme moi, ont été marqués par la guerre : leur père, leur oncle, des membres proches de leur famille ont participé aux différents conflits qui ont jalonné l'histoire de l'Égypte durant les années 1960 et 1970. Cette expérience les aide à apprécier la paix à sa juste valeur...
B. A. et P. D. - Est-il difficile de se faire un prénom quand on a un père aussi éminent que le vôtre ?
G. M. - En réalité, ce genre de considération est secondaire. Ce qui compte, pour moi, c'est de travailler et de poursuivre les réformes engagées. C'est aux Égyptiens et aux membres du PND de se prononcer : ai-je réussi parce que je suis le fils du président ou en raison de mes compétences ? Lorsque je suis entré en politique, il y a sept ans, j'ai voulu prouver que j'étais capable de participer au processus de réformes. J'espère y être parvenu.
Drouhaud_GamalMoubarak_PolitiqueInternationale_Sep2008.doc Update: Now also in PDF: Drouhaud_GamalMoubarak_PolitiqueInternationale_Sep2008.pdf
Links from my del.icio.us account for October 20th through October 22nd:
- Daily News Egypt - NAZIF’S CLOSING REMARKS ECHO PEPPY TONE OF EUROMONEY - Peppy! And I love the last line of the piece: "There were no farmers or construction workers available at the conference to comment."
- Fatah says to accept Egypt plan for reconciliation - Nabil Shaath says reconciliation agreement nearly finalized
- Exhibition "Agatha Christie's Egypt: Life on the Nile in the 1930s" - If you're in San Francisco
- Forum for the futile?, Arab democrats ask | Democracy Digest - Pessimism on democracy in the Arab world
- Middlesboro Daily News > Opinion > Editorials > Fingernails in Egypt - Deep and probing questions on the mystery of the baladi fingernail fashion: "One thing I have yet to be able to understand about Egypt is the phenomenon of the long pinky fingernail."
- EGYPT: Hey, you're not dying! | Babylon & Beyond | Los Angeles Times - Glad to see the Hamdy Balala story picked up - too funny
- Time to resurrect the Arab peace plan | World news | guardian.co.uk - Ian Black makes the good argument that it's about time that the Beirut Declaration of 2002, ignored by Bush and Sharon, be used as a base for future Arab-Israel negotiations
- Sudan’s Southern Kordofan Problem: The Next Darfur? - ICG report warns about possibly yet another conflict in Sudan
- Obama: Powell will have a role in administration (AP) - I don't like it. The guy discredited himself with the UNSC speech on Iraq. He had his chance.
- U.S. policies may have contributed to Iran revolution, study says - Los Angeles Times - Newly revealed archives showed US-Saudi oil price-fixing contributed to Shah's downfall
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, let’s take a panoramic look at the region, the Middle East. The Bush Administration came with some high wishes, hopes: preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear power; spreading democracy in the Middle East; a peaceful Iraq, a democratic Iraq; and after Annapolis, a commitment to have peace between the Israelis and the Arabs. And are you disappointed because some of these objectives were not met – I mean, especially on the peace process? SECRETARY RICE: Well, first, let’s look at the Middle East when this President became President in 2001 and the Middle East now. In 2001, you had a raging intifada after the collapse of the Camp David talks. You had in power in Israel a prime minister who did not come to power talking about bringing peace, and you had Yasser Arafat in power in the Palestinian Territories. You had Lebanon with Syrian forces occupying Lebanon, which they had done for decades. Saddam Hussein was in power in Iraq, threatening his neighbors, as he had done for decades. There really wasn’t very much discussion of democracy in the Middle East. And you look now and you see that, first and foremost, Saddam Hussein is out of power. And while Iraqis are struggling with their new democracy, they are now a democratic state, a multiconfessional, multiethnic, democratic state. Lebanon has a president. Lebanese forces are throughout the country for the first time in decades; Syrian forces are out. Syria has established proper diplomatic relations with Lebanon. You have a situation in which throughout the Middle East, people talk about popular rule, women can vote in Kuwait, elections have been held in a number of places, and in the Palestinian-Israeli situation, the two-state solution is now taken for granted that this the only real possibility. And President Bush, who put it on the agenda in 2001, has helped the parties come to a process after Annapolis so that you have the first really robust peace process in a number of years. And so yes, it’s still a difficult region, but I think a lot has been achieved over the last several years.And look towards the bottom at how the journalist fawns over "how hard you worked" on the peace process... since when? Since she realized that not working at all on the issue in her first seven years in office was not a super idea, that's when.
His colleagues know the businessman from Iran as manager of a medium-sized company based in Hesse: a dignified gentleman, 61 years of age, who had just returned from a trip abroad. The customs officers know him as a smuggler of armaments technology for Iran - this, at least, is the suspicion that has now landed him in pre-trial detention. The BND knows him as "Sinbad." This was the cover name under which he spied for the German foreign intelligence service for more than a decade. . . . The documents that Sinbad supplied came obviously from the holy of holies of the state apparatus in Tehran. He obtained pictures of tunnel rock drills, details of secret deposits, and up-to-date documents on progress in developing carrier technology for nuclear warheads. The information must have come mainly from ministries in Tehran to which he had excellent access. In Pullach, where Department 1 is based that supervised Sinbad, and in Berlin, where the analysts of Department 3 processed Sinbad's information, everyone was thrilled. What the source from Tehran served up went together well with the fragments that the BND obtained from other sources. As a result, a relationship of mutual trust developed between the BND and its spy in the mid-1990s, when their cooperation began. The BND paid its top spy about 1 million euros, an unusually high amount that is invested only in exceptional cases. He was, an officer said, "one of our best-quality sources in the area of proliferation in general."Apparently "Sinbad" was delivering technology for use in delivery systems -- the Shahab series of missiles unveiled by Iran in recent years and that are a more plausible medium-term threat/deterrent against Israel and US allies (or installations) in the region, even if they don't carry a nuclear payload. So perhaps the Iranians very well knew who they were dealing with, giving him info on a nuclear program they know they won't be able to complete in the near-future anyway, in exchange for making progress on building a more effective deterrent against a US/Israeli preemptive strike on the nuclear program. If you can deter and project strength effectively, after all, then you can afford to take the time on the nuclear program anyway. ---------------------- BBC Monitoring Europe - Political Supplied by BBC Worldwide Monitoring October 15, 2008 Wednesday German loses top spy over arms trading with Iran Text of report by independent German news magazine Der Spiegel website on 13 October [Report by Holger Stark: "Sinbad's End" - first paragraph is Der Spiegel introduction.] An Iranian businessman has been the top source of the German Intelligence Service (BND) spying in Tehran - now, his cover was blown. The German Government is afraid of massive diplomatic problems as a result. One of the most spectacular spy stories of the current decade had a very unspectacular end. The investigators of the Customs Criminological Office waited until the elderly gentleman had gone through passport control in Frankfurt Airport on Sunday before last [ 5 October], before they stepped forward. Handcuffs clicked, and the man was led away. His colleagues know the businessman from Iran as manager of a medium-sized company based in Hesse: a dignified gentleman, 61 years of age, who had just returned from a trip abroad. The customs officers know him as a smuggler of armaments technology for Iran - this, at least, is the suspicion that has now landed him in pre-trial detention. The BND knows him as "Sinbad." This was the cover name under which he spied for the German foreign intelligence service for more than a decade. The story of the man is a modern version of the sailor from the world of fairytales. He is a travelling salesman from the Orient, with whom you can never be sure where his loyalty lies in the end. Just as his role model from the Tales of the Thousand and One Nights, the modern Sinbad travelled half the world, doing business in Tehran, in Germany, and in Canada, of which he holds a second citizenship. He became a prosperous businessman, trading in high-technology goods - and secret information. Until now, Sinbad had been one of the best and most important sources for the BND overall. He delivered information from a region that is regarded as a no-go area for diplomats and intelligence services more than any other: Iran, the country of the mullahs and its unpredictable head of state Mahmud Ahmadinezhad, who wants to lead his nation to the status of nuclear power. Planting a spy in Iran is the crowning achievement of any intelligence service that they all try to attain: Israel's Mossad, Britain's MI6, the American CIA - and Germany's BND. Yet the case holds barely foreseeable complications now. Sinbad's information filled the blank areas on the map of the BND; it was sent straight to the Foreign Ministry and had been an important element for the German Government's policy towards Iran for years. The data delivered by the spy were repeatedly directly incorporated in the situation analyses of Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (Social Democratic Party). Germany's influence in the negotiations over Iran's nuclear programme is mainly due to Steinmeier's clever tactics, consisting of a mix of concessions and threats. They were also based on unusually detailed information - also thanks to Sinbad. The German Government now fears that the reaction of the mullahs will be draconian, when it becomes obvious for how long the BND was active in Tehran and what methods it used. It worries over a whole range of potential backlashes, from a burden on diplomatic relations to intelligence countermeasures. The documents that Sinbad supplied came obviously from the holy of holies of the state apparatus in Tehran. He obtained pictures of tunnel rock drills, details of secret deposits, and up-to-date documents on progress in developing carrier technology for nuclear warheads. The information must have come mainly from ministries in Tehran to which he had excellent access. In Pullach, where Department 1 is based that supervised Sinbad, and in Berlin, where the analysts of Department 3 processed Sinbad's information, everyone was thrilled. What the source from Tehran served up went together well with the fragments that the BND obtained from other sources. As a result, a relationship of mutual trust developed between the BND and its spy in the mid-1990s, when their cooperation began. The BND paid its top spy about 1 million euros, an unusually high amount that is invested only in exceptional cases. He was, an officer said, "one of our best-quality sources in the area of proliferation in general." Yet doubts were also voiced in Pullach early on, as to whether someone that acts with such nonchalance could perhaps have more than one principal. It appeared to be barely conceivable to the German officers that the government in Tehran did not keep an eye specifically on the dynamic businessman who travelled through the world entirely unhindered, which only very few Iranians can do. The intelligence people tried to dispel doubts whether the Iranian intelligence service had, perhaps, sent the West manipulated playthings through Sinbad. Yet a large part of the information he supplied had been confirmed. In several cases, he delivered pointers to other proliferation cases. And was the profit that Sinbad made from the barely fathomable business deals of his companies not attractive enough to carry on? Carry on he did. With the knowledge of the BND, the businessman established a company in Canada and another one in Germany, in central Hesse. This role enabled him to travel a lot. In the end, it was his undoing. The reason is that, apart from the intelligence services, an authority had cast out its net that is regarded as one of the most efficient supervisors in the area of arms exports: the Customs Criminological Office (ZKA) in Cologne. That was the net in which Sinbad got caught. The tax authorities had accidentally selected the businessman at the start of the year to conduct a foreign trade audit. A look into the books revealed serious discrepancies. The documents were sent to the ZKA, telephones were tapped, e-mail traffic monitored, and the businessman put under observation - until the ZKA discovered what it was looking for. Sinbad's company seems to have exported equipment that can be used for the Iranian missile programme. Since September 2007, deliveries appear to have been completed in two cases, with two more being planned. The master spy had not told the BND a word. The equipment is of "dual use" [previous two words published in English], which means that it can be used both for military and civilian purposes. However, the recipient to whom the deliveries were sent is on a blacklist, which currently comprises some 25 firms in Iran - these are the companies of which the German Government assumes that they are involved in the "very ambitious launch vehicle programme." This makes doing business with them unlawful. The Federal Prosecutor's Office in Karlsruhe assumes that the equipment was destined for the production of Shahab missiles, which are Tehran's pride and joy. With an estimated range of 1,300 to 1,600 kilometres, they can fly to Israel - and perhaps be tipped with nuclear warheads in the future. This is why deliveries that could be meant for the Shahab programme are monitored especially keenly. The customs investigators soon realized that the businessman was a BND informer; the relevant clues were supplied while he was under surveillance. As a result, a first crisis meeting took place between the spy's supervising officers and the federal prosecutors. The code of criminal procedure allows staying preliminary proceedings when there is a "risk of a grave disadvantage for the Federal Republic of Germany." This is the way in which such cases are resolved in most other countries. The BND would have been pleased to rescue its source. However, the law provides for such an emergency measure to be taken by a constitutional state in cases of offences relating to state security only. Yet in Sinbad's case, the point at issue was a breach of the External Trade Act. It was soon obvious, therefore, that the statutory loophole was not applicable. On top of that, Chief Federal Prosecutor Monika Harms raised massive objections to a deal, because the law did not allow that. BND President Ernst Uhrlau accepted her point of view although the consequences were foreseeable. Apart from foreign policy issues, the damage caused by the arrest is enormous, particularly for the BND. In the future, it will be far more difficult to obtain insider information on the Iranian armaments programme. The BND must also deal with the question whether it should get its informer a new identity. The reason is that Sinbad is threatened with imprisonment because of the exports - but what comes afterwards will be much worse. The revenge of the Iranian intelligence service when dealing with traitors can be terrible; only recently, a revolutionary court sentenced businessman Ali Ashtari, who is assumed to have spied for Mossad, to death. Sinbad would hardly have a better fate, should the Iranian service get hold of him. Why the spy betrayed his government in Tehran, while simultaneously delivering armaments is an open question. Perhaps he thought he was inviolable. It is not unusual for informers to consider themselves as sacrosanct; they may live in the firm conviction that they are immune to the banality of the judicial machinery. Or perhaps, as a businessman, he wanted to clean up twice. In the end, he was loyal to just one party: himself. Source: Der Spiegel website, Hamburg, in German 13 Oct 08
Links from my del.icio.us account for October 10th through October 18th:
- EDITORIAL: THE EMPEROR’S NEW CLOTHES - Daily News Egypt has cojones, asking "Is Egyptian democracy an oxymoron?"
- In Scramble for Cash, Pakistan Turns to China's Deep Reserves - Join the queue?
- TUNISIA: Independent news site destroyed - "Kalima, an independent Tunisian online news site, was hacked into and shut down on October 8, according to the Web site’s staff." Ben Ali regime probably behing hacking.
- BibliOdyssey: L'Art Arabe - From my favorite bibliophilia website, beautiful Arab geometric illustrations
- World Tribune — U.S. reduces aid to Egypt over security failures - $1.5bn aid package to Egypt approved, but $100m again withheld because of lack of progress on justice, HR, democracy.
- Israel hires PR firm on 60th birthday for a political facelift - They're always doing that.
- Osama bin Fragged: a review of terrorist propaganda games - Hunt down W. and more electronic fun
Links from my del.icio.us account for October 10th:
- Israeli town hit by third day of Jewish-Arab clashes - Yahoo! News - "Chanting "death to Arabs," the protesters were headed from a predominantly Jewish neighbourhood to the house of an Arab when police intervened."
- America the Banana Republic: Politics & Power: vanityfair.com - Hitchens finds out maybe he doesn't like Bush after all.
- LRB · Adam Shatz: Short Cuts - Adam Shatz on the latest Zio-con trick: "If you live in an American swing state you may have received a copy of ‘Obsession’ in your Sunday paper. ‘Obsession’ isn’t a perfume: it’s a documentary about ‘radical Islam’s war against the West’."
- Team of rivals - The National Newspaper - Nathan Field: "For the first time, Salafi jihadists seem to be focusing their energies on Israel: Abu Sharif also told al Akhbar that “we are focusing on forming a military wing in Palestine. On September 2, the London-based al Hayat published a front-page story about the sudden appearance of an al Qa’eda linked group operating out of Gaza who emphasise a shared ideology with al Qa’eda but aim to fight Israelis. In 2006 the al Jazeera reporter Yousri Fouda produced a documentary on al Qa’eda in the Levant, in which Fuad Hussein, an expert on Islamist groups, maintained that al Qa’eda’s goal in Iraq was to build a base from which to weaken security in Lebanon and Syria – for the purposes of laying the groundwork to operate in those countries against Israel, their ultimate goal."
- In Egypt, End of Hostage Crisis Is a Mystery - NYTimes.com - "The Egyptian government says that the prisoners were freed as the result of an “operation,” and the state-controlled media here reported the release as a result of a heroic commando raid. It was a bit of good news for the authorities, who are often blamed for their inability to deal effectively with a crisis. But now the reports of the rescue have been called into question by the former prisoners themselves, like Mr. Abdel Wahab, and officially by an opposition member of Parliament, Hamdy Hassan, who has demanded an investigation. Mr. Hassan said in a complaint issued this week that there was a broader principle at stake, that the government needed to be called to task if it used its control of the news media to spread false information and that it must have some degree of accountability."