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Monday, February 06, 2012

Egypt's military coup

In an earlier post, I talked about how Egypt's arrest of democracy activists shows how the country could not be thrown straight from dictatorship to democracy, and how it would have been wiser to have a transition period.

Some of you may recall the photo at left. It was from an interview on Egyptian television with Wael Ghonim, the young Egyptian Google executive who was based in Dubai and who set up the Facebook and Twitter pages that were credited with the Egyptian revolution. The interview took place a year ago this week. You can view that interview with Ghonim with English subtitles here.

In Sunday's Washington Post Magazine, author Lee Smith gives an insider account of the Egyptian revolution, based on interviews with Ghonim and with American-Egyptian journalist Ashraf Khalil (both of whom have now written books about their experiences). Smith concludes - as I did in my earlier post - that Egypt's enemy wasn't Mubarak but the army, and that both the US (which should have been smarter) and the revolutionaries (he names Ghonim, Khalil and the blogger Sandmonkey) were used as tools by an army that wanted to get rid of Mubarak.
Egyptian security forces killed hundreds of protesters over those two weeks, but compared with casualties during the 10-month uprising in Syria, where human rights groups estimate that Bashar al-Assad’s security forces have killed nearly 7,000 people, the toll in Egypt was very low. Why didn’t Egyptian forces commit themselves to the same levels of bloodshed? The answer goes to the essential tragedy of the revolution.

It is true, as Khalil writes, that “Hosni Mubarak was never as brutal, ruthless, or sadistic as some of his contemporaries”; moreover, it seems that the White House warned the regime against turning its weapons on civilians. But that’s not why Egypt’s security and military apparatus didn’t send more protesters to their deaths. One of the revolutionaries’ most famous chants was that the army and the people went hand in hand. However, events over the past year have shown that Egypt’s beloved army is interested in one thing only — maintaining the formidable economic interests that make it the most powerful and therefore the most corrupt institution in a country where wasta (connections) and baksheesh (bribery) have made corruption systemic for centuries.

Mubarak was not the regime; he was merely the civilian facade of a military order that has ruled since Gamal Abdel Nasser overthrew the monarchy in 1952. The irony is that Mubarak made the same error as the protesters in assuming that he was the ultimate authority. His unstated but obvious desire to pass the presidency on to his youngest son, Gamal, outraged not only the demonstrators but also the army, which availed itself of the opportunity the revolutionaries had created by going to the streets. Once the White House came out against Mubarak, the old man was finished, toppled by a military coup with which both Washington and the revolutionaries had unwittingly collaborated.

The current power-sharing arrangement between the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and the Islamists, who include some of the same terrorists that Ghonim’s interrogator fought in the ’90s, means that the revolution’s two biggest losers are the revolutionaries and the United States. The fall of Mubarak cost Washington an ally who had kept the peace with Israel for 30 years, at some risk to his own life. The Camp David accords turned the United States into a power broker and underwrote its position in the Middle East. The Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty showed other Arab states what prizes would come to them should they simply make peace with Jerusalem: American money, American prestige and of course American weapons. The peace was for the sake not only of Israel but also of Egypt, which receives roughly $2 billion a year in U.S. assistance if it avoids risking national suicide again in another war with Jerusalem’s superior, and nuclear, forces.

By appearing to turn its back on Mubarak, the United Statessuggested that perhaps peace with Israel isn’t that important. Egypt, with more than 50 percent of its population too young to remember the devastation of the 1967 and 1973 wars, is perhaps inclined to agree. Those who dismiss the likelihood of renewed Israeli-Egyptian conflict assume that the Egyptian army does not dare forfeit the $1.3 billion that flows to it in U.S. military aid each year. However, the army’s priority is not to obtain American cash but simply to stay in power. Over the past half-century, international, regional and domestic dynamics have repeatedly driven Egypt’s rulers and its army to make war against Israel in spite of what would seem to be their better interests. A military that represses its people for the sake of its own wealth is liable to make any sort of mistake.
Read the whole thing.

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At 3:17 PM, Blogger Sunlight said...

"...both the US (which should have been smarter) and the revolutionaries (he names Ghonim, Khalil and the blogger Sandmonkey) were used as tools by an army that wanted to get rid of Mubarak."

The Sandmonkey types were perhaps used. The Obama posse was *not* used. Obama and Hillary, with her Muslim Bro linked chief of staff whispering in her ear every day, were instrumental in bringing the Muslim Bro to power in Egypt. The Army, with its most advanced U.S. provided military might, is now at the beck and call of the jihadis, just like the U.S. military and NATO are/were in Libya. I think Americans just can't believe this, but every action done by this Administration points in the direction of installing jihadi rule wherever possible. Get off the couch and VOTE THEM OUT.

At 3:35 PM, Blogger Sunlight said...

OT Chief Ray Kelly has exhibited a fabulous range of opposition, eh? Kudos to him...



And further, considering the Obama posse's assault on the Catholic Church, don't forget that Ayaan Hirsi Ali had a whole section on wanting the Catholic Church (even though she says she is athiest) to be the framework for facing down the jihadis around the world. So, the Obama posse's actions (illegal actions, are they?) requiring the Catholic nurses to aid with abortions and the Catholic organizations to provide abortions to their employees appear to be another foray into weakening our traditional American way of life. Get off the couch and VOTE THEM OUT, people!

At 10:48 PM, Blogger Empress Trudy said...

The peace treaty that Obama and his minions of peaceniks would love to see torn up is the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. And make no mistake, what they want to happen if not outright destruction of Israel, a massive contraction in the state to something far far less than the 1949 Armistice lines.


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