Egypt’s Revolution Has Just Begun
by Eric Margolis: The
Man Who Knows Gadaffi’s Secrets
been a revolution in Egypt, but we still don’t know what kind it
is, how far will it go, and who stands to gain.
deposed president Husni Mubarak and his two sons were arrested and
are facing judicial interrogation. Egyptians are jubilant. Few Egyptians
believed the man they called "Pharaoh" would ever face
justice for his decades of torture, repression, and massive corruption.
The armed forces
were loathe to see former air force general Mubarak face arrest,
but they finally threw him and his two sons to the wolves to placate
mounting public demands for retribution against former leaders of
the hated old regime. The junta bought some time for itself.
But the fact
remains, in spite of Mubarak’s fall, not much has changed in Egypt.
Though there have been a few other token arrests of former high
officials, the Old Guard of generals and bureaucrats still rules
Egypt. An intensifying struggle goes on behind the scenes between
the military and the fragmented democratic opposition. So far, the
military retains an iron grip on Egypt in spite of noisy street
gone but Mubarakism still lives.
No one yet
knows what September’s planned parliamentary elections will bring,
or if they will be fair and open. One uneasily recalls Algeria’s
first free parliamentary vote in 1991. Islamists won a landslide.
Algeria’s reactionary military annulled the vote and arrested democratic
leaders. Egypt’s generals may do the same. The result in Algeria
was a decade of nightmarish civil war that left over 200,000 dead
– and that may reignite any day.
are growing that the Obama administration has decided to take advantage
of Mideast unrest by overthrowing regimes considered disobedient
or hostile. Subversive technique used by the US in Ukraine’s Orange
Revolution and Georgia’s Rose Revolution – and unsuccessfully attempted
in Iran – are being applied to Libya and, with secret help from
Saudi Arabia and Israel, to Syria. Lebanon has become the principal
platform for such US destabilization efforts.
If a fair vote
does come in Egypt, it would likely produce victory for parties
advocating Islamist political and social principles – anathema for
Washington which likes to work through pro-US dictators.
Muslim Brotherhood just formed a new party, Freedom and Justice,
patterned after Turkey’s successful Islamist Lite party, AK, and
predicts it will win 75% of the vote. For from being revolutionary,
the Brotherhood is very conservative, old-fashioned and cautious.
It took months for the Brotherhood to decide to enter the political
Much of what
happens this fall in Egypt will depend on decisions made in Washington.
US influence over Egypt still remains paramount.
military is joined at the hip to the US military establishment,
much as Latin American armies were in the 1970’s.
during Egypt’s February uprising, Washington rushed Defense Secretary
Robert Gates and the Pentagon’s top officer, Adm. Mike Mullen, to
meet Egyptian counterparts Field Marshall Hussein Tantawi and Gen.
Sami Enan. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stayed home.
channels much of the annual US $2 billion aid directly to Egypt’s
armed forces and senior generals. This is a huge amount for so poor
military establishment is a kingdom within the nation. Like their
Pakistani counterparts, Egyptian generals own tourist hotels, apartments,
factories, telecommunications and drug firms. They are tied in with
a coterie of businessmen grown rich on state patronage and sweetheart
deals. Call it Egypt Inc.
a WikiLeak cable from the US Embassy in Cairo, Mubarak’s regime
termed billions in US aid "untouchable compensation" for
keeping peace with Israel and jailing the Palestinians in Gaza.
Egypt has also
received billions worth of US food aid since 1979, including 50%
of its wheat sold at subsidized prices and involving massive kickbacks
and payoffs. Other US funding streams include secret "black"
payments to high officials by CIA, the US Defense Intelligence Agency,
the State Department, and favorable trade accords.
forces are totally dependent on the US for arms, spare parts, and
munitions, the latter two kept in very tight supply so that Egypt
could not sustain a war for more than a few days. US defense contractors
are linked to Egypt by a network of sweetheart contracts, much as
Turkey was before its AK Party ousted Turkey’s rightwing generals
Much of America’s
Mideast security architecture has been designed to benefit Israel,
with Egypt playing the key role. Bribing Egypt to make nice to Israel
has cost the US close to $100 billion. Israel got the benefits;
US taxpayers footed the bill.
elections approach, Washington is struggling to define a new policy
towards Egypt that will appear to support the democratic process
and even deal with the Muslim Brotherhood, while keeping firm control
over Egypt’s military and security organs and sustaining the Egyptian-Israeli
peace arrangement - which most Egyptians detest and consider deeply
approach will be very difficult. Mere mention of "Muslim,"
"Islamic," or "Muslim Brotherhood" in the United
States produces reflex fear and anger, much as "communist"
did in the 1950’s. The Israel lobby is issuing dire warnings about
any US dealings with Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, insisting this
staid organization is a hotbed of potential terrorism. Republicans,
much influenced by Israel and America’s anti-Islamic, evangelical
Christians, are deeply alarmed over alleged "dangers"
of Egypt’s democratization.
real change comes to Egypt, the first signs may be ending the siege
of Gaza and terminating Egypt’s supply of gas to Israel. Next, a
major shakeup in Egypt’s high command, with promotions of younger
nationalist officers, demands for a Palestinian state, ending torture,
and sharp curtailment of US political, military, economic and intelligence
influence in Cairo.
of Egyptians want such changes. But if the angry Americans cut off
aid, who will then feed Egypt and pay its bills? Independence is
a luxury that few poor nations can afford.
him mail] is the author of War
at the Top of the World and the new book, American
Raj: Liberation or Domination?: Resolving the Conflict Between the
West and the Muslim World. See his
© 2011 Eric Margolis
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