Egyptian protesters’ axis of interference

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Anti-Morsi Egyptian protesters marching yesterday with Qatar-Israel-US flag stitched together (photo: @SultanAlQassemi)

The U.S. image isn’t doing too well in Egypt. This picture of a Qatar-Israel-US flag was posted by Sultan AlQassemi from yesterday’s protests. Qatar has been accused by protesters of meddling in support of the Muslim Brotherhood. The U.S. is also being accused by protesters of propping up the Morsi government.

There is a stunning set of photos up of the demonstrations yesterday at Arabist, which says Morsi has now lost legitimacy. Thanks to Annie Robbins. 

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.
Posted in Israel/Palestine

{ 20 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. piotr says:

    I think that it is a given that whatever bad happens in Egypt the blame will go to USA (and/or Israel).

    Once I thought that this tendency goes to hilarious extremes. There was a series of shark attacks on Sinai beaches and an Egyptian official was quoted as suspecting that the sharks were trained by Mossad. A year or two later I have seen a program on those attacks on Canadian TV. Researchers established that sharks exhibited unusual behavior that could be best explained as approaching humans in expectations to get food, and then attacking when they were getting nothing. Apparently, this species does not have a history of approaching humans, and the way of attacking was atypical too: circle around and attack next, that would not work at all with normal prey. The conclusion presented in the show was that somewhere on the shores of the Red Sea someone was making experiments that involved feeding sharks and the sharks somehow escaped.

    Suddenly the Egyptian paranoia did not look stupid at all.

    Morsi unpopularity is largely of his own doing, but while his duplicity in dealing with Palestinians had at most moderate domestic cost, it cemented the American tag on his government. Like Erdogan, he is pigheaded, and while it sometimes works well, when it does not you get a disaster. In a wider context, the Qataris are getting tarnished, and so is the cause of supporting Syrian rebels. Obama chose truly bad time to open his hand on Syrian issue.

  2. bilal a says:

    When I was in Egypt during some of the liberal anti morsi protests, Cairo was uniformly quiet except for tahrir and some other cities where , according to the locals, paid criminals were attacking the police , military, and MB. The mood then was very hostile to the protestors except amongst the wealthy elite. The suspicion was that the deep state, the Mubarak supporters, were behind the destabilization of the MB government. None of this appeared on Al Jazeera and even now its hard to tell who is populating the protest massive crowds, pro MB allies or actual protestors?

    Is this another color revolution , facebook uprising as in Turkey recently ?

    • bilal a says:

      The military ultimatum with helicopters flying the Egyptian flag over the protests is mirrored on the ground where apparently, according to Haaretz, the police are standing down refusing to protect the elected MB offices.

      The waving of the Egyptian flag seems telling, foreign forces are waving it.

      see haaretz
      link to jpost.com

      • piotr says:

        It is hard to analyze events in Egypt. Clearly, masked rebels reek of remnant thugs and more legitimate opposition was highly obstructionist. There was also hint in the news that Salafists would ditch the sinking ship, and perhaps this can be some influence from a peninsula (there are two possibilities).

        But why Morsi did not manage to get parliamentary elections done? The constitution was a botched idea too. A good precedent from some countries in the transition is to get a wide agreement on “Short Constitution”, basically election laws and a short bill of rights, and delay permanent constitution for several years. The Brotherhood and other Islamists wanted to get fruits of power before actually having power, and this was a strategic blunder.

    • American says:

      @ bilal a

      I think there are definitely rats in the woodpile of these current revolts.
      Correct me if i’m wrong– but behind the first revolt call for deocracy was the belief that it would provide better ‘economic opportunties” (better lives) than the corrupt regime and it’s wealth sucking elite cronies.

      My memory is good enough to remember that Morsi’s stated first objective after takng office was to get Egypt’s economy going wth foreign investments for more and better jobs.. ….and he has pursued the WB loan that would stabilize Egypt enough to satisfy the foreign investors that have been eyeing Egypt for investment and waiting to see if it’s safe for them to go in….
      SO…. with Egyptians knowing the stakes involved in keeping these riots going and letting Egypt be seen as so unstable it totally tanks economically….WHY would they be cutting their own throats practically speaking?
      Just doesn’t seem to me to that being an Islamic state or not or Morsi’s high handedness is the true or total crux of this revolt.

      Who wants to see Egypt bankrupt so it’s government can be bought again?

      The last thing I remember about Assad before the rebel revolt was his announcing that he was instituting economic reforms and policies to help the average citizen to those who were calling for a “political change” and said economy changes were more critical and had to be addressed before political changes at that time.

      Whether Assad was lying or sincere or not , right after he announced he was going to do something that might be popular or good for the majority, the Syria rebels began forming…..seems the same thing is happening with Morsi..he’s not going to be given the time to shore up Egypt economically.

      • ToivoS says:

        Of course there are going to be rats in the woodpile, but that does not mean that the rats are leading events. Israel, the US, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the military, Mubarak remnants, and whoever else will try to influence outcomes but these types of actions have dynamics of their own. I happen to believe that their direction is unpredictable as well.

        • American says:

          @ ToivoS

          Well who do you think is leading this revolt?
          They dont sound like the same ones that led the first one.
          And what are their specific demands other than Morsi step down?
          I understand some say Morsi has drug his feet on coming up with a new constitution but has he instituted any hard line Islamic laws that are oppressing anyone so far?
          And who do they want to replace him?
          If this is another ‘popular revolt’ I’d say the masses are being very foolish in their priorities…….the crisis for ordinary Egyptians right now is Egypt is broke and the economy is tanking.
          They can always attack or protest the politics or leaders later….their priority right now should be not doing anything to make Egypt look unstable so Egypt can get the loans and investments it needs to create businesses, jobs and keep from going belly up.
          If Egypt tanks the former elites and the military, who also had a slice of the business sector anyway under Mubarak will take it back over and the general population will have nothing….even less then what they had before the first revolt.

          And with the military trying to enforce the protestors demands—which they didnt do when it was Mubarak—–I think something more is going on than just ‘a mix’ of different protestors and grips.

          Guess we will find out eventually.

  3. Citizen says:

    Let’s see… For decades the Egyptian military got lots of US taxpayer cash for kissing Israel, and then there was the Arab Spring, ousting the Muburak regime. The MB took over. Obama did nothing until the MB took over, then, despite some weak protest from Israel Firsters in Congress, Egypt got it’s latest annual dole of US cash after he got reports back Egypt would continue kissing Israel. Now, the Egyptian Air Force is flying Egyptian flags in support of the anti-MB protesters. Looks to me like the locals are unhappy with the MB way of governing, just as they were when the Egptian military ran everything. The key is the people keep getting screwed, have no jobs, neither the religious MB nor the secular military will help them, but both factions need US foreign aid, simply to pay the most basic bills. Obama will again do nothing in this second Arab Spring until he sees good sign of winner. Then he will again barter US tax money so the newest regime kisses Israel–until the next Arab Spring.

  4. Phil, I think Issandr’s pieces at the Arabist and in the National were far more nuanced than the way you characterize them. He writes about how, in addition to making several bad moves of its own, the Morsi government has been the target of a sustained and often vicious campaign of delegitimization. Not that simply it “has now lost legitimacy.”

    • American says:

      ‘the Morsi government has been the target of a sustained and often vicious campaign of delegitimization. ”

      Yes it has been from day one……the same people who always want to tell us how complicated and multifaceted everything else is, like for Israel, alway give us …’ ‘Spot is a dog, See Spot run’ ……presentations on Egypt, Syria, ME rulers, etc..
      Alway boils down to..revolt cause too Islamist, revolt cause not Islamist enough, all ME rulers rotten anyway.

      • just says:

        Exactly, American. I’ll never forget the vitriol immediately expressed here when Mr. Morsi was democratically elected because he was of the Muslim Brotherhood. Never mind that his people elected him. It’s always the Islamophobia that has been inculcated so successfully that comes first– no thought or respect at all.

        Same with the Iranian elections where 72% of Iranians actually voted– it was bitch and moan and “must have been rigged” for days and days.

        Disgusting, imo.

  5. Keith says:

    HELENA COBBAN- I agree that this post trivializes the reality of Egypt to the point of being borderline tabloid. The sourced article by Max Fisher in the Washington Post is a joke. He asks “Why is the same administration that helped push out Mubarak now the bad guy?” (Max Fisher)
    link to washingtonpost.com

    Are we to believe that he isn’t aware that Washington supported Mubarak as long as realistically possible, calling for his removal only when that was a foregone conclusion, and then working with the Egyptian army to ensure continuity of policy? Or that Morsi was acceptable to Washington because of his support for neoliberalism? Or that what the Egyptian people need and want (economic and political independence) is diametrically opposed by the US and global finance?

    As you state, the article by Issandr El Amrani is more nuanced, and provides a good starting point for a realistic analysis of events in Egypt. He says:

    “And he has made at least one disastrous decision, in the context of last December’s crisis, that has significantly worsened the economic outlook of the country by postponing reforms that had been planned as part of the IMF rescue package. I do not think it is fair, however, to blame Morsi for the more general economic situation (he inherited massive debt, an electricity crisis, a subsidies crisis, etc.) but it is true that save from raising loans from Qatar and elsewhere he has done little to stem it….” (Issandr El Amrani)
    link to arabist.net

    Two things should be clear. First, the IMF “reforms” consist of structural adjustment and neoliberal austerity, the very things which the protesters were rebelling AGAINST. The fact that the author is advocating for speedy implementation suggests that he is a victim of the neoliberal mindset. Second, the fact that Morsi is dependent upon loans from the IMF and Qatar indicate that he has big problems. And while Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood ideologically support neoliberalism (the privatization of social services via charity), I suspect that he has little leverage with the IMF in any event, that is, little room for compromise with the opposition.

    A quote followed by a link to a group calling themselves “Comrades from Cairo” : “References to the coming of “democracy” have no relevance when there is no possibility of living a decent life with any signs of dignity and decent livelihood. Claims of legitimacy through an electoral process distract from the reality that in Egypt our struggle continues because we face the perpetuation of an oppressive regime that has changed its face but maintains the same logic of repression, austerity and police brutality.”
    link to zcommunications.org

    If Morsi prevails, it will likely be more of the same. If Morsi is toppled it could conceivably get worse. Unless some group can figure out a way to extricate Egypt from the global matrix of financial control, to be able to feed the people and have an economy without IMF loans and interference, nothing will fundamentally change. Washington would rather see a failed, starving Egypt rife with sectarian strife, than a successful Egypt outside of empire.

    • bilal a says:

      Issandr El Amrani is a Moroccan writing mainly on Egypt , living in Cairo, and a a former North Africa analyst at the International Crisis Group , where presidential contender el baradei served on the board of directors, and chaired by pickering former amb. to Israel,all of it tied to soros and shady british intelligence officials involved in the former Yugoslavia.

      No information on who is bankrolling Iskandr now, but likely some soros open society cut out, ie he never left el baradei ‘s ICG?

      El Baradei is now openly calling for a second Egyptian military coup.

    • Citizen says:

      Looks like the US is getting it’s wish: Textile manufacturing has dropped off, lack of diesel fuel is chronic. Textiles are Egypt’s main export, diesel is used for running everything–it eats up a good part of the govenment’s subsidy funds. Lack of security on the street is also chronic. The people rebelled because they wanted justice and a job that could feed and educate their family. The new leaders have not produced, live is getting worse. link to bbc.co.uk

    • Keith says:

      “Morsi is selling the same merchandise that Mubarak sold, only…there’s an Islamic label on it,” said lawyer Abdel-Aziz, a leader of the Tamorad Campaign, as quoted in the May 29, 2013 English.Ahram.org. He added that, were Morsi to shave his beard and look into a mirror, he would “see Mubarak staring back at him.”
      link to counterpunch.org

      Perhaps Morsi is selling the same merchandise as Mubarak because he has little alternative?

      I am making a second comment on this thread because I feel that events in Egypt are critically important as a harbinger of things to come as global neoliberalism proceeds apace. More from Carl Finamore:

      “Unlike other upsurges in the Arab world of recent years, the Egyptian rebellion stands atop the field for a number of reasons. The determination of its people has not been beaten back by U.S…. On the contrary, the Tamarod education campaign has begun an important broad discussion on separating church and state in a civil society, on recognizing international standards of labor and women’s rights, on increasing the minimum wage and social subsidies, on ending privatization schemes and protecting state property and on investing loans directly into the economy to create millions of jobs rather than using the money to pay off Mubarak’s debts to foreign banks and governments as demanded by the IMF and World Bank.”
      link to counterpunch.org

      There appear to be people in the “rebel” leadership who understand the situation. The question remains, what can they realistically accomplish? The power dynamics are asymmetrical in the extreme. Sure, huge demonstrations can shut down the country, but so what? The empire has long anticipated violent resistance to neoliberal globalization, and is prepared to deal with it. Can they? Is it conceivable that the Egyptian people can wrest control of their country and economy from empire? Or will they be crushed and broken for their efforts? Perhaps they will cross one of Israel’s “red lines” and be attacked. This is a critically important struggle in regards to neoliberal globalization, and we shouldn’t focus exclusively on Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood.

      Finally, I highly recommend the linked article by Carl Finamore.
      link to counterpunch.org

  6. Citizen says:

    This article asserts that June 30th last was the biggest protest in Egyptian history. The people have good reason to be in the streets. They will not settle for a government that does not redistribute income/wealth more justly. Nor for a regime that has no values except loyalty. And they don’t like their basic freedom crushed by MB religious zeal. link to counterpunch.org

  7. Citizen says:

    NYT says military coup is developing: link to nytimes.com

  8. bilal a says:

    More evidence on the Mubarak era sectarian -police alliance against the MB:

    The protesters burned posters of Morsi and Assem Abdel-Maged, a longtime leader of [Islamist] Gamaa….Fighting continued with the protesters pelting the villa with firebombs and rocks. Policemen, angered by the death of one of their own, joined the fight on the side of the protesters.

    The fighting continued for hours, with the police occasionally retreating because of heavy gunfire. Morsi’s supporters, some wearing construction helmets and homemade body armor, shot at the protesters and police from pickup trucks and motorbikes that came in waves.

    link to foxnews.com

  9. bilal a says:

    As in initial Syrian covert ops, trained snipers kill Morsi government supporters in Cairo. Classic NATO insurgency methodology. We’ll see if this follows in parallel Turkey destabilization.

    link to bnews.kz