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August 18, 2013

Who Dictates U.S. Policies On Egypt?

Who is really setting U.S. policies on Egypt?

The NYT has the answer: How American Hopes for a Deal in Egypt Were Undercut

The Israelis, whose military had close ties to General Sisi from his former post as head of military intelligence, were supporting the takeover as well. Western diplomats say that General Sisi and his circle appeared to be in heavy communication with Israeli colleagues, and the diplomats believed the Israelis were also undercutting the Western message by reassuring the Egyptians not to worry about American threats to cut off aid.

Israeli officials deny having reassured Egypt about the aid, but acknowledge having lobbied Washington to protect it.

When Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, proposed an amendment halting military aid to Egypt, the influential American Israel Public Affairs Committee sent a letter to senators on July 31 opposing it, saying it “could increase instability in Egypt and undermine important U.S. interests and negatively impact our Israeli ally.” Statements from influential lawmakers echoed the letter, and the Senate defeated the measure, 86 to 13, later that day.

Posted by b on August 18, 2013 at 8:18 UTC | Permalink

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UN pushes Egypt to allow rights monitors Spokeswoman Liz Throssell told reporters on Tuesday that the office was seeking a green light to send "several" human rights observers to assess the situation. "We're calling to have human-rights officers allowed on the ground in Egypt so they can gather information, they can talk to NGOs, national human-rights institutions, draw up reports," she added. Last Thursday, UN rights chief Navi Pillay demanded an "independent, impartial and credible" probe into the crackdown by Egypt's security forces. Throssell said that Egypt's UN ambassador had held talks with senior human rights officials in Geneva the day Pillay made her appeal, and had informed them that a probe had been launched. Since then, the UN has also called for an investigation into the deaths of three dozen Islamist detainees in police custody, and condemned an armed ambush of police buses in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on Monday that left 25 policemen dead. Throssell also said Egypt's treatment of detainees was under watch.
It's too general. If they have a specific site, a specific detainee, etc, they can demand access, but just saying "we want to come and poke around at will and talk to whoever we like & etc etc" is ridiculous. It will not happen. If they come at all, they will be chaperoned by Sisi minders, they won't be allowed to wander around and meddle. Why should Sisi give them carte blanche to manufacture horror stories? He doesn't have to. He isn't going to become another Saddam Hussein, because that's not where the US is at regarding him.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Aug 20 2013 14:35 utc | 201

"Why should Sisi give them carte blanche to manufacture horror stories? He doesn't have to."
He sure doesn't, Rowan: the horror stories are only too evident. And the refusal to allow observation just confirms them.
It is sad to see so many, otherwise apparently sensible, posters regurgitating the blood stained scripts that W and Mubarak and Netanyahu always used.
There is nothing trivial about the preventable killing of one man, the killing of more than a thousand requires, morally, if not legally, proper explanation.

Pepe Escobar nails it:
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/MID-05-200813.html

Posted by: bevin | Aug 20 2013 15:43 utc | 202

Norman Pollack:
http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/08/20/the-globalization-of-militarism-2/

Posted by: bevin | Aug 20 2013 16:15 utc | 203

Pepe Escobar nails it... Posted by: bevin | Aug 20, 2013 11:43:14 AM | 202
Pepe is forced to pass across the fact that Putin (he infers) approved the coup, without making any sweeping moral judgments about Putin:
The MB is anathema to both the House of Saud and the Kremlin. And if there's no more US "aid" to Sisi's junta, as in we give you cash so you can buy more of our weapons, there's nothing preventing the Russian arms industry from filling the void.
That's it? That's his only explanation for Putin's inferred acquiescence? Isn't there a lot more that could be said about Putin's reasons for hostility to the MB? Couldn't you write a whole book about Putin's reasons for being hostile to the MB? And arms sales is, what? The only motive worth imputing to him? Pathetic.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Aug 20 2013 16:37 utc | 204

The New York Times editorial board against Israel and Saudi Arabia :-))

The choice the generals are promoting is that the world must decide between them or instability. “At this point, it’s army or anarchy,” one Israeli official told The Times. Israel has been vigorously lobbying the United States and Europe to back the generals. Over the weekend, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia strongly endorsed the crackdown; he and other gulf monarchs, who hate the Brotherhood, have pumped billions into Egypt’s treasury.

There is a better path, and that is to choose not to help the military, which is making things worse, and could fuel a generation of Islamists to choose militancy over the ballot box. (The possible release of ousted President Hosni Mubarak from prison would be the ultimate repudiation of the 2011 revolution.) Is that really in the best long-term interests of the United States? Obviously not.

There is much at stake in the United States relationship with Egypt, including the Israel-Egypt peace treaty (Israel’s priority), counterterrorism cooperation, priority treatment for ships transiting the Suez Canal, overflight rights for planes to and from Afghanistan. But the point to remember is that Egypt benefits from this relationship, too, as do the generals.

President Obama’s muted chastising of the generals and his indecisive reaction to the slaughter does not inspire confidence. Instead of wringing their hands, administration officials should suspend the $1.3 billion in annual American military aid to Egypt — including the delivery of Apache helicopters — until the military puts the country on a peaceful path.

Some say the aid can easily be replaced by the gulf states, but they have often promised aid — for the Palestinians, for instance — and failed to deliver, whereas the United States has reliably provided Egypt with an estimated $60 billion over three decades.

Long term, Egypt cannot subsist on handouts and needs to develop a real economy to provide jobs, education and other opportunities to its people. That is the road to true stability and will require tourism and foreign investment. But that cannot happen in a country in perpetual turmoil with a repressive military intent on obliterating its adversaries. The United States should not be complicitous in this unfolding disaster.

Posted by: somebody | Aug 20 2013 16:40 utc | 205

Bhadra woke up and just wrote one of his best-ever piece
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/MID-01-200813.html

I love the idea of Ford and Bendar as streetsweepers! Maybe in their next lives?

Posted by: Mina | Aug 20 2013 16:47 utc | 206

Very interesting Bhadrakumar article, Mina. The Khaled Khoja interview with Hurriyet is here, in english. I don't believe him when he says:

Following a nine-month siege, the opposition forces got hold of the airport near Aleppo and found Saudi Arabian rockets destined for the regime.

That really isn't very plausible. But it's a fascinating item, nonetheless.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Aug 20 2013 20:22 utc | 208

@guest77:

The estimates of the dead from the army and the MB are so disparate that I wonder whether we'll soon be getting reports from a London-based Egyptian Observatory for Human Rights.

Posted by: Rusty Pipes | Aug 20 2013 23:32 utc | 209

@Rusty

If so, we ought to check that they don't share an address and a phone number.

The army is vicious, and with the potential release of Mubarak quite obviously to run roughshod over not just the Muslim Brotherhood but also over the people who, foolishly it seems now, gave them the cover to overthrow Morsi. That said, the MB is not to suddenly be trusted because they've sacrificed hundreds of their followers (this, in fact, makes them even less trustworthy in my eyes. They know they cannot overthrow the army directly). The Muslim Brothers seem as willing to send their followers to their deaths on the streets of Cairo today as they were to do on the streets of Homs a couple of moths ago.

The key factor remains the Egyptian people who were on the streets on June 30th. It is important that the army still has to do this in their name. IF they remove their support and reemerge onto the streets, all bets are off.

They need to force a fissure between the generals and the junior officers/ncos and enlisted. I don't know enough about the dynamics to even assume this is possible, but it seems to be the only possible option.

The army has been trained well to take "Islamists" as their enemy and is quite happy to shoot them down like dogs (I don't understand, though, how the army, if made up of conscripts, has avoided having its own Islamist sympathizers) but they have not yet shown that they'd do the same with "average" Egyptians. Will they?

____

By the way, Mina is absolutely right regarding the Brotherhood leadership. They are not "the poor" by any stretch of the imagination though they may have earned the poor's respect with their social programs (is this the kind of payback they intended). They are almost entirely upper middle class doctors, engineers, and professors (does the Egyptian army give exemptions for college students? serious question).

Posted by: guest77 | Aug 21 2013 1:16 utc | 210

I swear Rowan, you need to stop leaving your salvia around. It seems Jub's gotten into it again.

Posted by: guest77 | Aug 21 2013 2:46 utc | 211

rowan @204
Your characterisation of Escobar's argument is belied by the piece itself. Are you assuming that nobody reads him? Or is it that you don't?
The link is there @202 for anyone to follow.

Posted by: bevin | Aug 21 2013 4:23 utc | 212

Bevin, you're supposed to be the pope of pseudo leftism, remember. Don't lose your pontifical calm. Now instead of calling me a liar, tell me what else Escobar says about Putin's motives. Maybe I missed it.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Aug 21 2013 4:31 utc | 213

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