was shot in the back at Rabi'a Al-Adawiya Square, with US
A new tactic has been added to the US
democracy promotion arsenal, where ‘color revolutions’ are too
difficult, and ‘postmodern coups’ fail.
The smoke is already
clearing in the wake of Egypt’s latest coup—the whodunnit and why.
All traces of the post-2011 attempts to reform and clean up the
corruption of the previous 40 years are systematically being erased.
All appointees under Morsi are being replaced by military officials
and old-guard Mubarakites. A state of emergency and trials by
military courts are in place. Complete disregard for legal
norms—presided over by the Mubarakite head of the Supreme
Constitutional Court and interim President Adly Mansour—is the order
of the day.
President Morsi is accused of conspiracy against Egypt—with the
hapless Palestinians. The respected 70-year-old Muslim Brotherhood
(MB) Supreme Guide Mohammed Badie is under arrest, and MB Secretary
General Mohammed el-Beltagi, whose daughter Asmaa was murdered—shot
in the back and chest—in hiding, themselves accused of murder.
Documented murders, like the gassing and shooting of 36 Muslim
Brotherhood prisoners in a truck this week by police, are ignored or
applauded in the press and on TV, now safely back in the hands of
Mubarakites, with no risk of censure (this passes for ‘freedom of
The horrendous death toll made President Obama squirm a bit, and
cancel some F-16 fighter pilot sales. He even nixed the comradely
joint “Bright Star” military exercises (what possible scenario could
make US and Egyptian troops fight shoulder-to-shoulder?)
Coup who’s who
Pro-coup and anti-coup are finding unlikely bedfellows around the
world: the coup is enthusiastically welcomed by the Saudi sheikhs,
Israeli leaders, Syria’s embattled Bashar al-Assad, and Iraq’s lame
duck Nouri al-Maliki (the latter two albeit fighting their own civil
wars against Sunni fundamentalists). At the same time, Iran, Turkey,
Europe, and, for the time being, the US, are lining up against it.
The latest anti-coupers include even some of the most pro-Zionist
Zionists, not only “Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran” Senator John McCain
(whose visit to Cairo last week to admonish coupmaker General Abdel
Fattah el-Sisi was followed a few days later by the slaughter of
thousands of MBers), but Brookings Institute neoconservative Robert
Kagan, with his bipartisan Foreign Policy Initiative and Working
Group on Egypt. Like McCain, he issued a statement shortly after the
coup calling for suspending military and economic aid to Egypt.
Kagan correctly argues that the paltry $1.5 billion in US aid to the
Egyptian military provides no real leverage. Why? Because the
generals know that the Obama administration cannot afford to
withdraw the aid, despite any ‘threats’.
PNAC’s coup strategies
Neither Kagan nor McCain is serious, of course. But why are they
being holier-than-thou? Do they really care about thousands of
peaceful Muslims being mowed down by US bullets? Kagan’s motives
must be read between the lines: “Suspending aid now is not merely a
matter of principle or even of abiding by our own laws—although that
ought to count for something. As a practical security matter, we may
pay a heavy price down the road for our complicity—a whole new
generation of Islamist fighters, some percentage of whom will turn
to terrorism. The United States should acknowledge that Morsi failed
utterly as Egypt’s first freely elected president. But the reliance
on military intervention rather than a political process to resolve
crises severely threatens Egypt’s progression to a stable
Yes, “Morsi failed utterly”, though Kagan doesn’t say why. It was
because he never had a chance, having been reluctantly installed by
the military following his election, in what was really just another
coup, a ‘postmodern’ one, which on the surface gave Morsi the reins
of office, but without any power to reign.
Some background on Kagan, a devotee of Bush/ Cheney and founder
of the Project for a New American Century (PNAC). On the eve of
9/11, PNAC’s “Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategy, Forces and
Resources for a New Century” (2000) called for a “new Pearl Harbor”
which would justify launching pre-emptive wars against nations
“challenging our leadership” as “the US is the world’s only
superpower.” In 2007, retired General Wesley Clark revealed that by
9/11, in addition to Afghanistan, the Pentagon already had plans to
take down seven Muslim countries—Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya,
Somalia, Sudan and Iran.
An important concurrent strategy to facilitate or preempt the
need for such messy invasions was ‘democracy promotion’ and ‘color
revolutions’, which are necessary when an anti-American government
is popular and a direct invasion difficult. Groups like the US
government-funded National Endowment for Democracy, International
Republican Institute, and Freedom House, and their local spin-offs,
created a wave of color revolutions in newly created ‘nations’ in
the 2000s (Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine, Georgia, Serbia), by fomenting
instability using young unemployed urban youth with cell phones to
bring their societies to a halt, and instigating ‘revolutions’.
They have advisers and financing from such as the head of Google
Ideas Jared Cohen, who helped train digital activists of the
Egyptian April 6th Youth Movement, and Google’s billionaire
boss and “Obama lackey” Eric Schmidt, who has “White House and State
Department support and air cover. In reality, they are doing things
the CIA cannot do,” according to former State Department security
official Fred Burton (courtesy of a 2007 Wikileak).
Managing Egypt’s coups
Kagan’s ‘Working Group on Egypt’ does not want to invade Egypt,
Israel’s most important ally and neighbor, which would be far too
messy. The intent from the 2000s on has been to promote a color
revolution to shape an acceptable Egyptian government. Kagan’s
democracy-promotion wonks were active in the 25 January 2011
collapse of Mubarak’s regime, and worked in the aftermath to promote
western-friendly Egyptian NGOs, hoping that pro-West secularists
would win in open elections—the classic color revolution.
Like the boy calling “Wolf!”, Kagan also called for a suspension
of aid to Egypt on 29 January 2011, “until the Egyptian government
commits to free and fair elections and the transfer of power to a
legitimate government.” But things didn’t go as planned—US funded
NGOs promoting Washington’s agenda were prosecuted, and elections,
free of US interference, eventually were swept by the MB and Salafi.
The ‘Arab Spring’ was turning into an ‘Islamic Awakening’. Neither
the Egyptian military nor the US could allow this unforeseen
Sisi graduated from the US Army War College in 2006, where he was
indoctrinated with the PNAC line, while advising the need to
cultivate “public support from religious leaders [who] can help
build strong support for the establishment of democratic systems.”
He obvious agrees it’s okay for the US to invade countries such as
Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran, which challenge US leadership. Sisi
likes the Saudis who have squared the circle, are faithful US allies
and the model for acceptable “religious leaders”. However, Egypt’s
MB were the long-standing respected Islamists and had to be given a
chance following the collapse of the Mubarak order to see if they
would be acceptable to Washington. When they started to deviate from
the US-Saudi scenario, they had to be replaced.
The military cheered the opposition Tamarod movement on—no limits
to their demonstrations—providing the pretext for the coup,
employing standard Great Game tactics as used in Iran (1953), Brazil
(1964) and Chile (1973). (Ironically, just this week the CIA finally
admitted its role in Iran in 1953.) If Sisi had really been
concerned with sustaining “the religious base, versus
devaluing religion and creating instability” as he argued at the US
Military College in 2006, he would have supported the reinstatement
of parliament (disbanded on a technicality by his predecessor), made
sure that MB officials and buildings were safe from arson and
snipers, and certainly not have given a carte blanche to the
subversion of the legitimate government by the Mubarakite old guard.
By warning the opposition that they must work with the elected
government, no Johnnie-come-lately Tamarod would have swamped the
airwaves and streets, egged on by the Mubarakites; no gas shortages
would have been orchestrated.
Mother America’s liberals
Egypt has a well-ensconced pro-western elite, corrupt, extremely
rich, and as events over the past two years prove beyond a doubt,
vicious and unprincipled. When Morsi proved able to function despite
the June 2012 postmodern coup, and refused to bow to this latest
color revolution, it was necessary for Obama to give it a nudge. On
1 July, after the ultimatum of “Mother America” demanding Morsi
resign, Washington finally sent word that the military takeover was
about to begin. One of Morsi’s aides texted: “Mother just told us
that we will stop playing in one hour.”
Mother America now insists that all these revolutions/ coups
should be relatively bloodless, in keeping with the New World Order
principles of ‘democracy’ under a benign US hegemon. The US
counts on the ‘democracy promotion’ chaos undermining the legitimate
government, which is then unable to mobilize its supporters to
defend it, and is easily overthrown ‘by the popular will’. None of
this worked in Egypt, and mass slaughter has meant that the neocon
poster-boy Mohamed Elbaradei had to resign in disgrace after the
killings (he will now be tried for “betrayal of trust”). But there
are lots of unscrupulous liberals eager for the limelight.
Qatar analyst Larbi Sadiki asks in Al-Jazeera, “Who are
these Arab liberals? Who amongst them has one iota of Mill or
Locke’s political creativity? They have an obsession with bombing
Iran, bashing Islamists, and being bedfellows with the enemies of
democracy. It’s not their political rhetoric but their relationship
with the generals of security forces and intelligence services that
is cause for most concern. Instead of learning about
constitutionalism or putting together theories about legal and
democratic governance, they unfortunately seek satiation of their
hedonism.” Well, Larbi, in answer to your question, they are the new
puppet rulers of Egypt (and Libya), and their friends in Tunisia and
Syria are looking on longingly, waiting for their chance.
Much like the old Communist International, Kagan and the
‘democracy promoters’ in Washington have created a “Capitalist
International”, according to Steven Weissman, to promote such
liberals through ‘democracy promotion’, ‘color revolutions’ and now
‘color coups’. The formula for the color coup: slap Sisi’s wrists,
paper over the massacre, and restore the safe Mubarakite order.
Kagan’s tears over the fate of the likes of Asmaa are crocodile
ones, intended to pressure the coupmakers into moving quickly to
cover their tracks, though there is little room left for them to
maneuver. The Haiti scenario where Jean-Bertrand Aristide was
reinstated to carry out the last year of a lame duck presidency in
1994 is not possible now, given that the coupmakers would have to
face the music for their crimes.
Pinochet was humiliated in the end, but died without facing the
music. That is surely Sisi’s worst-case scenario. He still has an
ace, however threadbare: he could try to drape himself in Gamal
Abdel-Nasser’s nationalist cloak and turn to Russia-China for
support. So the US will bite the bullet, and resign itself to a few
more wintry decades subsidizing their Pinochet-on-the-Nile.
Washington must weigh the pros and cons of what follows
carefully. It can’t risk genuine elections in Egypt at this point.
Will a frightened, weary Egypt accept phony elections, put hopes for
a new, Islamic society on hold, and let their Pinochet govern with
craven liberals as a cover, a la Islam Karimov in Uzbekistan? Can
Egypt’s dysfunctional economy be squeezed enough to keep the
starving masses alive without jeopardizing either the Mubaraks or
the Elbaradeis in their gated communities?
Egypt’s new US Ambassador Robert Ford,
with his experience in Iraq 2004–06, Algeria and Syria, is a clear
sign that Obama will back the coupmakers with all the dirty tricks
in the bag, including death squads, to maintain US hegemony in the
region. Kagan can rest assured.