The Egypt experiment is falling apart. The crisis point may be reached as early as tomorrow, June 30th, when massive demonstrations are expected to rock the rule of Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi. It has been a slow-motion disintegration from the begining, however.
US-backed liberal Egyptians took to Tahrir Square in 2011, trained by the State Department to mobilize masses through social media to overthrow Mubarak rule. Their success resulted in their being shunted aside in favor of the real power in Egypt, post-Mubarak: the Muslim Brotherhood and the military.
Since then, contrary to US government predictions, democracy and freedom has not broken out bringing with it economic prosperity and social harmony. History teaches us that revolutions are not as simplistic and binary (bad out, good in) as their supporters would like us to believe. The Egyptian economy, dependent on tourism, has been in free-fall since the unrest, leading to deep layers of resentment in those who were told that overthrowing Mubarak would bring economic growth.
Why did the US support both the position (Mubarak) and the opposition (April 6 Movement, Kifaya, etc.)? It is not as uncommon as it might seem. Mubarak’s sclerotic rule was coming to an end anyway, Egypt’s population was young and frustrated, and though the US did not necessarily wish to spoil its relationship with the Egyptian dictator it did seek maximum influence on the coming succession struggles.
Additionally, as Mubarak explains in an interview this month, he was proving an irritation to the US over his refusal to allow permanent US military installations in Egypt and his refusal to allow the US to “help” with establishing a communications network in Egypt.
Said Mubarak this month:
“[Late defense minister Abdelhalim] Abu Ghazleh came once to me and said the Americans requested to build a base here and I agreed. I told him: You have no authority to approve that and neither do I. You don’t own (Egypt) and neither do I.
“When I later met with the then-U.S. Secretary of Defense during an official visit to the U.S., he told me Abu Ghazleh approved establishing a military base. I told him the Egyptian constitution allows neither Abu Ghazleh nor me to approve that. Such an issue requires the approval of the parliament, and even if the latter approves, a popular referendum is required. I ended the subject there. They have more than once requested establishing bases in West Cairo and Burj al-Arab. They wanted bases at any expense.”
Mubarak also stated that the U.S. had attempted to assert control over Egypt’s communications systems.
“Then they wanted to establish an electronic network for the armed forces. This is of course so Israel and America monitor [the armed forces]. I told the defense minister to make them forget about it. But they returned later wanting to connect all Cairo central terminals with Ramsis’, and they actually agreed on that with the telecommunications minister.”
Mubarak said that he was informed of the American plan by the armed forces and realized that such a plan, if carried out, would allow the U.S. to paralyze all communications in Egypt.
“This means that when work at Ramsi’s central terminal stops, all communications in Egypt stop. I summoned the telecommunications minister and told him: ‘So in this case, any phone call made passes through Ramsis central.’ He said the Americans will do this for free.’ I told him: ‘Don’t you dare approve that. He said that the Americans had already connected Giza’s central terminal with Ramsi’s. So I told him to just obstruct the plan at this point.”
It is easy to dismiss this interview as the revisionist mutterings of a former US concubine tossed aside in favor of a more youthful suitor. But considering revelations about US/UK spying not just in far flung areas but even in the heart of Europe, suddenly such claims seem less far-fetched. And reports that the US military is deploying to Egypt suggest its new rulers may welcome a bit more foreign muscle to keep unrest from becoming too threatening.
Unrest is reaching a crisis point, though. Clerics are warning of a civil war. And the US is worried. In Africa, President Obama has expressed concerns over the increasing likelihood of major violence and has taken steps to protect the US Embassy in Cairo.
Tomorrow’s protests will pit various factions against each other, including the reformists, Morsi’s Islamists, and the increasingly restive military. The stakes could not be higher.
When Egypt falls apart completely, which is likely, the result will be even more chaos, economic collapse, and bloodshed. Blame will be apportioned to the rulers, the opposition, the military, the Mubarak-era decay, the economy. All have a role, to be sure. But what we will not see, particularly in the US mainstream media, is the blame that should be laid at the foot of a decades-long wrongheaded US foreign policy, which props up one corrupt regime, finances armies of regime-change specialist NGOs, switches sides, calls a revolution in the streets “democracy”, and looks on seemingly-puzzled at the dislocated and desperate society left in its wake. The role of US interventionism in the destruction will not be raised in the US media or by US politicians pretending to seek answers. Interventionism can never be blamed because…well…we meant well.
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