An American Coup in Egypt?
What is happening in Egypt warrants historical contextualization. When Sadat first took over after Nasser in 1970, his chances of survival in power were nil. He had no political stature and no power base of his own. He began to build up his power in 1971 when he announced the existence of a wide leftist conspiracy by Nasser’s chief advisors (he called them “marakiz al-qiwa” – centers of power). His case was based on secret tapings of phone conversations. It was never before revealed whether the US government supplied Sadat’s with the “evidence” in order to help him eliminate his Nasserist rivals. It was only a year later that Sadat ordered the Soviet advisers out of Egypt, probably as a payback to the US government. The rest of the history of Sadat and Mubarak is too well-known: the US government helped construct and supervise the repressive security state in Egypt, which would become a cornerstone of US-Israeli policies in the Middle East.
It is too early to analyze the nature of the Egyptian regime of Mursi, but there are some clear signs and indications. The US government has reached the conclusion that it (and Israel) can do business with the Muslim Brotherhood as long as they don’t touch or interfere in the foreign policies of Sadat-Mubarak. Egyptian intelligence service has been constructed by the US and operates as an extension of the CIA station in Egypt. It is fair to say that the Muslim Brotherhood has basically allowed the intelligence service to retain control over the foreign policies of Egypt. The top appointments at the foreign ministry have been undertaken by the mukhabarat apparatus, and the foreign ministers in the new Egypt are graduates of Sadat ‘s school of diplomacy. The American administration and Congress have made it very clear that the only criterion that matters to the US is the preservation of the Egyptian-Israeli treaty.
But the Muslim Brotherhood needed time to prove their loyalty and subservience to US security interest and orders. The US was watching closely and it was very clear to Arab watchers that the Ikhwan underwent a swift makeover. Gone were all the speeches about jihad with its grotesque anti-Semitic rhetoric and the standard Islamist references to “the descendants of apes and monkeys,” and in was a new insistence on the necessity of respect for “the international treaties and obligations.” Of course, the redundant references by the new Egyptian government to the respect for “international treaties” were in no way related to Egypt’s bilateral treaties with African and Asian countries. It became a euphemism or a code language of sorts for the new government of the Ikhwan: it was sent as a signal to the US that they are willing to preserve the same foreign policies of Mubarak-Sadat in return for support in power.
The Brotherhood sent emissaries to Washington, DC and held talks with prominent members of the Zionist establishment in the city. Senator John McCain (a man to the right of Ariel Sharon), became a sudden champion of the Ikhwan in the US and went regularly on Fox News to promote the notion of a “moderate Muslim Brotherhood.” The IMF (a mere tool of US foreign policy) quickly joined in and promised a generous loan in return for good behavior.
But the Gaza war was the golden opportunity: it would be years before we really know how the Gaza war erupted and how it was managed, but the Ikhwan earned the trust of the US and Israel very quickly. After the savage Israeli war on Gaza, the Muslim Brotherhood and preachers of holy war against Jews – this is the classical rhetoric of the Ikhwan – argued that the Mursi government’s recall of the Egyptian ambassador to Israel is the strongest possible response, very much along the lines of Mubarak’s foreign policy argument. The Brotherhood worked very closely with the Obama administration, and Zionists in the US showered praise on the Mursi government and on the new responsible behavior of the Muslim Brotherhood.
It was only days after the Gaza war that Mursi produced his decrees. And the US reaction was quite similar to its reaction when any of its repressive clients in the region resorts to repressive measures. Worse, the US government reacted in the same way it reacted when protesters first took to the streets against the Mubarak regime. Just as the Obama administration early condemned the “violence” of the Egyptian protesters against Mubarak (and not vice versa), the Obama administration again warned the protesters (and not the regime) against the resort to violence. Zionist media quickly followed suit. The New York Times carried a front page picture of a Muslim Brotherhood activist rescuing an injured person: Arabs widely ridiculed the picture because the Arabic press on the same day carried various pictures of Ikhwan thugs beating peaceful demonstrators in Cairo. And the New York Times has been so pleased with Mursi’s behavior vis-à-vis Israel that it considered the mounting of tents and the scribbling of anti-Mursi graffiti as acts of violence by the opposition.
There is no evidence as of yet that the US was involved in Mursi’s coup, but there is clear evidence that the two governments have been working closely together. Various emissaries of Mursi were dispatched to Washington DC, and Mursi notified the US government of his decision before the decree was announced to the Egyptian public. It is not unlikely that the US has colluded with Mursi in order to reconstruct the repressive security state that has been so helpful to Israel over the decades. It is possible that the US will adjust its relationship in the region in order to incorporate the Ikhwan regimes into the established pro-US regional repressive system. The suspicion of a US role in the Mursi government is widely shared among Egyptians, and its explains why many protesters went to the US embassy to protest but were turned away by Mubarak-Mursi’s security goons.