THE US-LED WESTERN DOUBLE STANDARDS POLICIES AND “DEMOCRATIC” HYPOCRISY ON EGYPT’S “MILITARY COUP”
by Syarif Hidayat
The people in the corridors of power in Washington show double standards again and again on their policies toward the current political events in the Middle East such as their stand on the Syrian conflict and reaction to the latest coup in Egypt. The US is preaching democracy around the world and at the same time supporting dictators or military coup in the Middle East such as what happened in Egypt. (Here is a photo of US President Barack Obama discussing the events in Egypt with his national security team in the Situation Room).
The hypocrisy of US imperialism’s pretense of promoting democracy on the world arena is manifest in Washington’s reactions to the recent military coup carried out in Egypt ousting a democratically elected President Muhammad Morsi.
President Barack Obama,in his statement concerning the Egyptian military action, did not mention what many are calling a military “coup” in Cairo. Over two days, the president has discussed the situation with his national security advisers.Obama issued a written statement Wednesday, expressing “deep concern” about the military’s move. He urged the military to quickly and responsibly “return full authority… to a democratically-elected civilian government as soon as possible.”
Obama’s statement was seen by some people as criticizing Morsi’s ouster. President Obama is facing difficult choices in shaping U.S. policy toward Egypt after the Egyptian military ousted President Mohammad Morsi. The White House is assessing how best to encourage both democracy and stability in Egypt.Two days after his ouster, supporters of Egypt’s ex-president clash with demonstrators who want him out – reflecting that nation’s division and the quandary left for U.S. policymakers.
Administration officials, in meetings and phone calls, however, seemed to signal to Egypt and other U.S. allies that the White House accepts the military’s act.And some Washington analysts have advised the administration to align itself with the Egyptian military. They call it “the only safe harbor in the relationship,” and “the one actor the United States can still influence.”
Others, such as Jon Alterman, director of Middle East Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, say the U.S. should engage with Egypt’s whole political spectrum.“I think we should have a relationship with the military, but we should also have deeper relationships with the business community, and deeper relationships with the academic community, and deeper relationships in the provinces and so on, because Egyptian politics are going to be shifting for many years to come,” said Alterman.
In his statement, Obama avoided using the word “coup” when referring to the events in Cairo.At stake is more than $1.5 billion a year in U.S. aid to Egypt, most of it to the military. U.S. law requires cutting off aid to any country in which an elected government is deposed in a military coup.Alterman said the law does not take into account a situation like the one in Egypt, and he believes U.S. lawmakers will work around it.
“The response to the law, the common sense approach to U.S. interests, to the U.S. relationship with Egypt, to the U.S. relationship with the Egyptian military, is going to be [that] people will find some way not to make a judgment on that, so that it does not disrupt the bilateral relationship,” he said.
Later, the Republican chairman and top Democrat on the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee issued a joint statement implying that it was time for Morsi to go. Ed Royce and Eliot Engel also encouraged the military to exercise extreme caution and support sound democratic institutions.
US told Morsi to go an hour before his ouster
U.S. national security advisor Susan E. Rice had told deposed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi’s team that the president would leave office an hour before his ouster by the military, a report says. An Arab foreign minister had called Morsi as an emissary of the United States to give him one final chance to make changes to his cabinet to end the standoff with the military, The New York Times reported on Saturday.
Senior advisors with Morsi said the minister, not named in the report, made the call several hours before the announcement of the president’s ouster by the military on Wednesday to ask for the appointment of a new prime minister and cabinet. The new cabinet would have assumed all legislative powers and replaced Morsi’s appointed provincial governors.
Morsi’s top foreign policy adviser, Essam al-Haddad, who was with Morsi when the call came through, then left the room to call U.S. ambassador to Egypt Anne W. Patterson to notify Washington that Morsi had refused to comply, the U.S. daily said. Upon returning to the room, Haddad said he had called Susan Rice, Morsi’s aides said.
“Mother just told us that we will stop playing in one hour,” read a text message sent by an aide to his associate, referring to “Mother America,” the Egyptians’ sarcastic name for the Western power that has for years supported the Egyptian military with billions of dollars in aid.
Gen. Abdul-Fattah al-Sisi, the Egyptian defense minister and the country’s top military commander, announced on Wednesday that the army had removed Morsi from power. After the TV announcement, the military said Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically-elected president, had “failed to meet the demands of the Egyptian people.”
Morsi was the Muslim Brotherhood’s envoy in talks with the military, represented by General Sisi, following the overthrow of Egypt’s long-time ruler Hosni Mubarak in early 2011. Later the relationship between them developed, according to a senior Brotherhood official close to Morsi, to the level that the president “trusted him.” In a surprise move last summer, Morsi appointed General Sisi defense minister.
Over his short-lived tenure as president, Morsi was frequently accused by the opposition groups of seeking to monopolize power. In a meeting with Haddad in Washington last December, U.S. President Barack Obama had urged the Muslim Brotherhood to include the opposition in the government, according to the Times. Secretary of State John Kerry had even suggested naming former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency Mohamed ElBaradei as prime minister to ease tensions with the opposition groups but Morsi had rejected the idea, the U.S. paper said.
Obama’s written statement
Here is the complete Statement by President Barack Obama on Egypt released by the White House on July 3:
As I have said since the Egyptian Revolution, the United States supports a set of core principles, including opposition to violence, protection of universal human rights, and reform that meets the legitimate aspirations of the people.
The United States does not support particular individuals or political parties, but we are committed to the democratic process and respect for the rule of law. Since the current unrest in Egypt began, we have called on all parties to work together to address the legitimate grievances of the Egyptian people, in accordance with the democratic process, and without recourse to violence or the use of force.
The United States is monitoring the very fluid situation in Egypt, and we believe that ultimately the future of Egypt can only be determined by the Egyptian people. Nevertheless, we are deeply concerned by the decision of the Egyptian Armed Forces to remove President Morsi and suspend the Egyptian constitution.
I now call on the Egyptian military to move quickly and responsibly to return full authority back to a democratically elected civilian government as soon as possible through an inclusive and transparent process, and to avoid any arbitrary arrests of President Morsi and his supporters. Given today’s developments, I have also directed the relevant departments and agencies to review the implications under U.S. law for our assistance to the Government of Egypt.
The United States continues to believe firmly that the best foundation for lasting stability in Egypt is a democratic political order with participation from all sides and all political parties —secular and religious, civilian and military. During this uncertain period, we expect the military to ensure that the rights of all Egyptian men and women are protected, including the right to peaceful assembly, due process, and free and fair trials in civilian courts.
Moreover, the goal of any political process should be a government that respects the rights of all people, majority and minority; that institutionalizes the checks and balances upon which democracy depends; and that places the interests of the people above party or faction. The voices of all those who have protested peacefully must be heard – including those who welcomed today’s developments, and those who have supported President Morsy. In the interim, I urge all sides to avoid violence and come together to ensure the lasting restoration of Egypt’s democracy.
No transition to democracy comes without difficulty, but in the end it must stay true to the will of the people. An honest, capable and representative government is what ordinary Egyptians seek and what they deserve. The longstanding partnership between the United States and Egypt is based on shared interests and values, and we will continue to work with the Egyptian people to ensure that Egypt’s transition to democracy succeeds, Obama concludes his statement.
A military coup is not a military coup if it’s in Egypt
Robert Fisk in his article titled: “Apparently a military coup is not a military coup if it’s in Egypt,” published in www.independent.co.uk writes for the first time in the history of the world, a coup is not a coup. The army take over, depose and imprison the democratically elected president, suspend the constitution, arrest the usual suspects, close down television stations and mass their armour in the streets of the capital.
But the word ‘coup’ does not – and cannot – cross the lips of the Blessed Barack Obama. Nor does the hopeless UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon dare to utter such an offensive word. It’s not as if Obama doesn’t know what’s going on. Snipers in Cairo killed 15 Egyptians this week from a rooftop of the very university in which Obama made his ‘reach-out’ speech to the Muslim world in 2009.
Is this reticence because millions of Egyptians demanded just such a coup – they didn’t call it that, of course – and thus became the first massed people in the world to demand a coup prior to the actual coup taking place? Is it because Obama fears that to acknowledge it’s a coup would force the US to impose sanctions on the most important Arab nation at peace with Israel? Or because the men who staged the coup might forever lose their 1.5 billion subvention from the US – rather than suffer a mere delay — if they were told they’d actually carried out a coup.
Now for the kind of historical memory that Obama would enjoy. In that dodgy 2009 speech in Cairo – in which he managed to refer to Palestinian “dislocation” rather than “dispossession” – Obama made the following remarkable comment, which puts the events in Egypt today into a rather interesting perspective.
There were some leaders, he said, “who advocate for democracy only when they are out of power; once in power, they are ruthless in suppressing the rights of others…you must respect the rights of minorities, and participate with a spirit of tolerance and compromise; you must place the interests of your people and the legitimate workings of the political process above your party. Without these ingredients, elections alone do not make true democracy.”
Obama did not say this in the aftermath of the coup-that-wasn’t. He uttered these very words in Egypt itself just over four years ago. And it pretty much sums up what Mohamed Morsi did wrong. He treated his Muslim Brotherhood mates as masters rather than servants of the people, showed no interest in protecting Egypt’s Christian minority, and then enraged the Egyptian army by attending a Brotherhood meeting at which Egyptians were asked to join the holy war in Syria to kill Shiites and overthrow Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
And there is one salient fact about the events of the last 48 hours in Egypt. No one is happier – no one more satisfied nor more conscious of the correctness of his own national struggle against ‘Islamists’ and ‘terrorists’ — than Assad. The West has been wetting itself to destroy Assad – but does absolutely nothing when the Egyptian army destroys its democratically-elected president for lining up with Assad’s armed Islamist opponents. The army called Morsi’s supporters “terrorists and fools”. Isn’t that just what Bashar calls his enemies? No wonder Assad told us yesterday that no one should use religion to gain power. Hollow laughter here — offstage, of course.
But this doesn’t let Obama off the hook. Those Western leaders who are gently telling us that Egypt is still on the path to “democracy”, that this is an “interim” period – like the ‘interim’ Egyptian government concocted by the military – and that millions of Egyptians support the coup that isn’t a coup, have to remember that Morsi was indeed elected in a real, Western-approved election. Sure, he won only 51 per cent — or 52 per cent — of the vote.
But did George W. Bush really win his first presidential election? Morsi certainly won a greater share of the popular vote than David Cameron. We can say that Morsi lost his mandate when he no longer honoured his majority vote by serving the majority of Egyptians. But does that mean that European armies must take over their countries whenever European prime ministers fall below 50 per cent in their public opinion polls? And by the way, are the Muslim Brotherhood to be allowed to participate in the next Egyptian presidential elections? Or will they be banned? And if they participate, what will happen if their candidate wins again?
Israel, however, must be pleased. It knows a coup when it sees one – and it’s now back playing its familiar role as the only ‘democracy’ in the Middle East, and with the kind of neighbours it understands: military rulers. And if Egypt’s wealthy military king-makers are getting a nifty $1.5 billion dollars a year from Washington – albeit postponed — they are certainly not going to tamper with their country’s peace treaty with Israel, however unpopular it remains with the people for whom it supposedly staged the coup-that-wasn’t.
Stand by then for the first US delegation to visit the country which has suffered the coup-that-wasn’t. And you’ll know whether they believe there was a coup or not by the chaps they visit on their arrival in Cairo: the army, of course, Fisk concludes his article.
Tony Blair Defends Egypt’s Military Coup
Meanwhile the quartet spokesman on the Middle East peacer, Tony Blair did not hesitate to defend the Egyptian army’s decision to remove Egypt’s first elected leader – amid violent protests which have claimed more than 30 lives.The former British prime minister – now the Middle East peace envoy for the US, Russia, the EU and the United Nations – said the alternative would have been “chaos”.
Supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohammad Morsi have vowed to fight until he is restored with little sign a peaceful resolution is on the cards.Blair said while he supported democracy, “efficacy is the challenge” and the Morsi administration had patently failed to deliver in its first year. While 17 million people on the streets opposing the regime did not constitute an election, such an “awesome manifestation of power” would prompt the fall of a British government, albeit without military intervention, he said.
The world must “engage” with the interim government to help it deliver badly-needed economic reforms because “we can’t afford for Egypt to collapse”, he warned in an article for The Observer.And he said one positive to be emerging was that there was “open debate about the role of religion in politics” and “probably a majority for an intrinsically secular approach to government in the region”.
“The events that led to the Egyptian army’s removal of President Mohammed Morsi confronted the military with a simple choice: intervention or chaos,” he wrote.“Seventeen million people on the streets are not the same as an election. But it as an awesome manifestation of power.
“The equivalent turnout in Britain would be around 13 million people. “Just think about it for a moment. The army wouldn’t intervene here, it is true. But the government wouldn’t survive either.”He added: “I am a strong supporter of democracy. But democratic government doesn’t on its own mean effective government.
Today efficacy is the challenge.
“This is a sort of free democratic spirit that operates outside the convention of democracy that elections decide the government.,” he said – noting that it was fuelled by social media.“It is not always consistent or rational. A protest is not a policy, or a placard a programme for government. But if governments don’t have a clear argument with which to rebut the protest, they’re in trouble.”
Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood administration “was unable to shift from being an opposition movement to being a government”, he argued, presiding over a “tanking economy”, an absence of ordinary law and order and failing services.An “excellent” tourist minister quit over the president’s “mind-boggling” appointment of someone linked to a group responsible a terror attack which killed 60 tourists in Luxor 1997 as its governor.
Blair said we “must hope” further bloodshed could be avoided but the new rulers will have to take “some very tough, even unpopular decisions”.He cautioned that young people had too much faith that democracy itself was the solution and that some he met in the wake of the revolution which toppled the previous president Hosni Mubarak had economic ideas “well to the old left of anything that had a chance of working”.
Blair was criticised by Tory former foreign secretary Douglas Hurd.“Tony Blair leaps in before he’s thought things through. We know that already and he’s done it again on this,” he told BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show.
“The seizure of power by the military was the second act in a drama that is going to go on and on and on.“We won’t know for weeks, maybe even months, whether the military…have made a good gamble for Egypt or bad.”“We need to keep our heads and not rush to judgment. Tony Blair is someone who rushes to judgment.”
Leaders in Britain and elsewhere had to “grit your teeth” and work with whoever is in power, he said.“We should not go out of our way to clap our hands and say ‘that’s marvellous’ as Tony Blair has done. We should keep our counsel, keep our wits about us, and wait for the last act of the drama which may be some years away.”
Muslim Brotherhood presses US to label military takeover a ‘coup’
Gehad El-Haddad, the spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood, on Sunday pressed the U.S. to label the military takeover in Egypt a “coup” and vowed that his group would not rest until deposed President Mohamed Morsi was returned to power.
The Obama administration has avoided calling the military action a coup, legal language which could block the $1.5 billion in aid the U.S. sends to Egypt every year.
“I don’t understand what naivete can behold any person to see all the ingredients, political signs of a coup, and not see the coup,” El-Haddad said in an interview Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” “It’s military junta on TV, tanks on the streets, troops on protest. Military people shooting civilians. I mean, it’s every ingredient of a full police state. I mean, what else are people waiting for?”
El-Haddad also vowed that there would be more clashes if military leaders did not “return the president back to his rightful place”“There is no plan B. Again, we will stick by our principles,” he said.El-Haddad’s comments come as Egypt faces another day of protests and clashes between pro-supporters and opponents of Morsi.
The Muslim Brotherhood leader was ousted last week and placed under house arrest by the military after days of mass protests over his rule. Morsi’s supporters though have vowed to restore the democratically elected leader, and on Friday the country saw more than 30 killed in violent protest.
The White House on Saturday condemned the violence, but has avoided taking sides in the conflict. “The United States categorically rejects the false claims propagated by some in Egypt that we are working with specific political parties or movements to dictate how Egypt’s transition should proceed,” the White House said in a written statement. “We remain committed to the Egyptian people and their aspirations for democracy, economy opportunity, and dignity. But the future path of Egypt can only be determined by the Egyptian people.”
Obama also met with his National Security Council to discuss the situation. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Saturday criticized the military action and called for the administration to suspend aid for the military.“We have to suspend aid to Egyptian military because the military has overturned the vote of the people,” McCain said Friday according to a report from Al Jazeera. McCain urged Obama to demand a timetable for new elections and the drafting of a new constitution.
El-Haddad said the rank and file of the Muslim Brotherhood was ready to take action to restore Morsi’s government.“I lived most of my life under the oppressive state of Mubarak. My father did the same under a different regime. My grandfather did the same. It’s been too long and this country has been robbed of its freedoms,” he said. “I’m not willing to let my son and my daughter inherit a state in that mess. I will stand in front of that tank even if it rolls on our dead bodies.”
AP Updates: No Mention of ‘Muslim Brotherhood’ or ‘Morsi’
Tom Blumer in his article titled: “AP Updates White House/Egypt Situation With No Mention of ‘Muslim Brotherhood’ or ‘Morsi’” published in http://newsbusters.org/blogs on July 06, 2013, wrote “You’ve got to hand it to the folks at the Associated Press, aka the Administration’s Press. No news organization on earth is as consistently effective at burying the substance of a story while appearing to cover it.”
Take this evening’s unbylined coverage of the Obama administration’s noncommittal, substance-free positioning on the situation in Egypt. It takes a special talent to get through a few hundred words in a story such as this without ever mentioning the name of the ousted Mohammed Morsi or his Muslim Brotherhood party, and whoever wrote the AP story was up to the challenge (bolds are mine):
OBAMA: US NOT BACKING ANY EGYPTIAN PARTY OR GROUP
President Barack Obama on Saturday reiterated that the U.S. is not aligned with and is not supporting any particular Egyptian political party or group and again condemned the ongoing violence across Egypt. Obama made those points during a telephone conference with the National Security Council about developments in Egypt, according to a statement issued by the White House. He was spending the weekend at Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland.
“The United States categorically rejects the false claims propagated by some in Egypt that we are working with specific political parties or movements to dictate how Egypt’s transition should proceed,” the White House statement said. “We remain committed to the Egyptian people and their aspirations for democracy, economy opportunity and dignity. But the future path of Egypt can only be determined by the Egyptian people.”
The White House statement repeated key assertions Obama and other U.S. officials have made since the Egyptian military ousted the democratically elected president of Egypt, calling for an inclusive process allowing for all groups and parties to participate, urging all Egyptian leaders to condemn the use of force and to prevent further violence, and urging demonstrators to conduct themselves peacefully.
The rest of the report contains the publicly pronounced pablum of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Secretary of State John Kerry, who presumably spoke from somewhere other than his yacht. Earlier this week, the State Department initially denied that Kerry had gone to his yacht, even after pictures of Kerry doing that were published. State later backed away and said that Kerry was briefly on his yacht but didn’t do any work there. ABC disgracefully tweeted in Kerry’s defense: “Kerry Focused on Egypt Despite Yacht Visit.”
Getting back to the AP report — It is one of many by establishment press organs throughout the world emphasizing that Morsi, the AP’s new mystery man, was “democratically elected” while conveniently failing to mention that he forfeited whatever legitimacy that election provided him when he assumed near-dictatorial powers in late November of last year.
The AP report also conveniently failed to note that the Muslim Brotherhood, the group which apparently cannot now be named if U.S. officials are also included in a news story, has promised a campaign of terror in response to Morsi’s ouster, basically heralding a return to its terrorist roots which it had never really renounced.
Once again, as I noted on July 1, AP, at least on matters relating to the Egypt and the Middle East, “acting like an organization which has been compromised.” As long as it does, we can expect more of the same word avoidance — and reality avoidance — in the coming weeks, Tom Blumer concluded his analysis. (HSH)