The Military Coup in Egypt will embolden militancy

July 21, 2013

The Military Coup in Egypt will embolden militancy

by BA Hamzah[1]

BA HamzahThere is now mounting evidence that the military coup in Egypt has the blessings of Washington, London, Paris, Tel Aviv, Riyadh, Qatar and Al Ain. Other outsiders could well be involved in the conspiracy to overthrow the first elected President of Egypt as well.

The United States law prevents it from giving aid to any country that stages a military coup de tat. Yet, when President Mohammed Morsi was ousted on 3 July 2013, the US refused to call the military intervention as coup. William Hague at London and Lady Ashton at Brussels bent backward to placate President Obama’s policy.

Both the UK and the European Union refused to sanction the Egyptian military coup leaders. On the contrary, against all conventions, they promptly recognised the military Government of General Fatah Al-Sissi. In other words, despite the coup de tat, business remains as usual. Such policy has lent credence to the conspiracy theory.

As a matter of policy, Washington, London and the EU, among others, in the past have always condemned coup takers, refused to grant recognition to the Governments they form and in most cases, have their assets frozen.

Washington irked many by rewarding the Egyptian military with 20 F 16 fighters and promised not to cut the US $1.5 billion annual aid once a “democratically elected government has taken office”.  A large chunk of the aid would go to the military which, according to A Turkish source, controls forty percent of the Egyptian economy.

The military controls the economy; not the Muslim Brotherhood, which provides most of the welfare network system for the poor. By removing Morsi, the military would protect its economic interests.

Egypt is critical to US national security interests. The US now walks a tight rope in Egypt especially following a disastrous foreign policy in Iran, Libya, Yemen and Tunisia, to name some. Besides, US support for the Egyptian military is important for Israel. For this reason alone, the US has assiduously cultivated the military, which it considers the bastion of “democracy” in Egypt.

The military has accused Morsi of ineptness: poor governance, economic malaise, inflation, MohamedMorsiPspiking crime rate, unemployment and a host of other social cultural issues. Expecting Morsi to resolve the problems he inherited from the military since 1952 in less than one year is unfair.

The funds from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE and Turkey were never enough to go around especially when the economy almost collapsed. President Morsi could probably alleviate the credit crunch, had he taken US $4 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund. He, however, refused the loan because of a conditionality clause, which requires Egypt to remove subsidies affecting mainly the poor.

When President Sadat removed the bread subsidy in 1977, the people took to the street in protest. Four years later, Sadat was gunned down reportedly by those who opposed the Camp David Accords peace deals with Israel. Signed in Washington, the 1979 Egypt –Israel Peace Treaty provides for the complete withdrawal of Israeli troops from the Sinai desert Israel captured in the Six Day War in 1967. Under the Treaty Egypt also agreed to allow Israel ships through the Suez Canal.

JP-HAGEL-articleLargeTel Aviv, London and Paris have always viewed the Suez Canal as their lifeline. In 1956, their troops seized the Suez Canal from Egypt. The loose talks that the Qataris wanted control of the Suez Canal in exchange for US $5 billion facility could have alarmed Tel Aviv and probably pressured the military to act.

Morsi’s Islamist credentials also worry the more secular military institution and Israel. In August 2013, Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu rebuked Morsi for blatant violations of the 1979 Treaty obligations. He demanded that Morsi remove the tanks from Sinai.Morsi’s flirtations with Tehran must have upset Washington, Riyadh and Doha. The fragile power balance in the region and rising tension with Israel could have unnerved the military as well.

The last straw that broke the camel’s back came on 15 June 2013 when President Morsi attended a rally at Cairo organized by a group of Sunni religious leaders. According to one source, this meeting called for a holy war against Syria soon after President Assad defeated the militias, backed by Western Countries and some rich Sunni Arab States, at Al Quasyr a few days earlier.

The thought of fighting a war in Syria must have been the tipping point that led to the coup. An news_bEgypt-ArmyChief-250Egyptian military involvement in Syria would reverberate beyond the Middle East. With a Naval Facility at Tartus (since 1971), Russia is likely to get involved. Three other permanent members of the Security Council (US, UK and France) have already deployed proxies (mercenaries) on the ground. Only China stays out of the Syrian conflict.

Whatever phobia the military may have with Israel or Iran and the policies of the Muslim Brotherhood, Salafists and other anti-secular social movements, the coup remains reprehensible. The coup makes mockery of democracy and it emboldens militancy. Professional militaries do not dabble in politics.

Finally, the Egyptian military junta should not overplay the Israel card; it can backfire and play into the hands of the militantswho have made deeper inroads into the region.


6 thoughts on “The Military Coup in Egypt will embolden militancy

  1. On Democracy, I received the following comment via e-mail. The sender said:

    “Democracy has been ‘sold’ to us as the only logically legitimate form for us to organize our political affairs. We were introduced to it as part of the overall Athenian legacy, a legacy that included the ideas of Meletus of Ionia, the father of modern science, who stripped away superstition and fear, and revealed science. This was over 2,600 years ago, while the Egyptians were still worshiping the Sun God Ra. Remember Meletus’ aphorism, “For every natural event, there is a natural explanation”.

    For the first time, there was a flash of blinding clarity. There was no need to resort to a superstitious explanations. There is a perfectly clear natural explanation to everything in nature. He laid the foundations for the likes of Socrates two hundred years later, followed by Plato, Aristotle, Pythagoras, and hundreds of other brilliants Greek mathematicians, scientists, philosophers, poets, writers, dramatists, artists, sculptress, military strategists, and so on.

    One of the legacies was Athenian democracy, the idea of self government of the people was possible, sans warrior kings, or landed aristocracy. It was bundled with other brilliant ideas from the fertile and restless Greek minds. There are many things about democracy that are greatly appealing and attractive. It “solves” the problem of legitimacy accountability within the concept of the sovereignty of the people. It was messy in its infant stage. For example, the Athenian court that tried Socrates was a rowdy crowd of over four hundred “judges” who had no court procedures or rules of evidence. It was nothing like a court today. This were left to the Romans to perfect later.

    Democracy as a concept, and as a form of government, was distiller and refined by the generations of Europeans, British and American revolutionaries, liberal writers, parliamentarians, jurists, and social activists, post the Age of Enlightenment.

    Two centuries later, it reached our shores when the British colonial system collapsed.Democracy came gift-wrapped with a constitution, and several institutions that came with it, such as elections, political parties, constitutional monarchy, an independent judiciary, an independent elections commission, an independent judiciary, and an independent civil service. An adversarial political system was supposed to check and balance political practice, and an adversarial judicial system was supposed to protect liberty and promote justice Clearly, it has not worked out as expected.

  2. Din, Is it democracy’s fault? Democracy – from a Greek word meaning “rule by the people”- is an ideal, no doubt. A constitutional democratic government is at the opposite end of the spectrum from an authoritarian one. But Democracy is as much a process as a goal. Elections alone don’t make a democracy. There is need of institutional checks on government power: a free press, an independent judiciary, a neutral civil service, protections for minorities, freedom of religion and respect for the rule of law. And, it has been said, that for democracy to be effective and to survive, power needs to lie, not with the people, nor with the legislature, but with the constitution.

    And often well known but not attained is the need for tolerance…or democracy could lead to the tyranny of the majority over the minority in plural societies.

    Malaysia and Indonesia…have shown so far that their constitutional democracies, being secular and inclusive, can work…and we hope will continue to do so. Are they examples for the aspiring Arab Islamist democracies? Can they put the lie to a believe by some that political Islam isn’t compatible with democratic principles?

    Time will tell…it will be a long process.

  3. I wonder, if and when the ‘interim govt’ holds elections, will the Muslim Brotherhood be allowed to participate? And if so, what if they won again? Or is democracy rule by some people, not all?

  4. The idea that outside hands were involved in the developments in Egypt is not new… in fact the same can be said about the entire Arab Spring. But this begs the important question… how was it possible for outsiders to so easily alter the course of so many countries?

    The answer? Because in not a single one of them was there a ruling arrangement that cared for its citizens. So a ready tinder was just waiting for… you fill in the blanks.

  5. In my first posting on Egypt I said that the Ikhwan seem to have been carried away…

    Now that things are getting clearer it appears it was a correct assessment.. Prior to gaining power the Ikhwan were talking about improving the lot of the very poor segments. After getting power they toy with the idea of sending their soldiers to Syria. This and their Islamic thrust. No wonder so many turned out on the streets against them.

    Who was it that coined… “It is the economy, stupid”?

    Erdogan in Turkey was making the same mistake when his people kicked up such a protest. He seems to have got away by the skin of his teeth but his party is not out of the woods yet.

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