This post is part of Marc H. Ellis’s “Exile and the Prophetic” feature for Mondoweiss. To read the entire series visit the archive page.
The Guardian is reporting dozens more killed in Egypt. We don’t know yet whether martial law is just taking hold or whether it’s unraveling.
This as reports circulate that one of the reasons for President Morsi’s ouster was his liberal policy toward Hamas. If you’re shocked at this revelation, you need a reality check. Egypt’s self-interest is tied to Israel and America not to Hamas and the Palestinians.
We now have a preliminary answer to the question prominent a year ago: Will the Arab Spring benefit the Palestinian cause? So far the answer is a resounding ‘no.’ Over the last year a promising instability has turned threatening and bloody. The next decade will find Egypt and the other Arab nations focused internally.
Palestinians were always a rhetorical luxury anyway. In the post-Arab Spring even pro-Palestinian rhetoric is fading.
The reliance of Egypt on America is absolute. The U. S. go-ahead on the coup makes this clear as does U. S. funding of Egypt’s martial law regime now firmly (back) in place. Egypt’s reliance on Israel is less clear or at least less in the open. One wonders what the links are between the Egyptian and Israeli military. They may be like Israel’s links with the government of Jordan.
You see, Jordan’s self-interest is likewise with Israel over against Palestinians. As usual, Lebanon has several states within, one of them being Hezbollah. But in its self-interested heart of hearts, wouldn’t Lebanon be better off if it could strike an Egypt-like deal with America and Israel? This might be part of America’s interest in de-stabilizing Syria. If the Syrian-Lebanon link is derailed, the next phase of struggle might once again be within Lebanon.
And while we’re at it, if Susan Rice calls on the phone, listen up. Unlike Samantha Power who is disingenuous and ready to confess her sins, Rice takes no prisoners. Rice is the Obama administration’s ‘Decider.’
True, Rice will lay out your options, offer a few helpful suggestions, tell you the ball is in your court and then give you a moment or two to think things over. When time is up, your decision is important. If it goes Rice’s way, you’re in the clear. If it isn’t, it’s off with your head. Ask (former) President Morsi.
What does Rice have to say about the rise of the ultraconservative Islamic party, Al Nour, which the New York Times features on the front page this morning? It seems they are taking the place of the Muslim Brotherhood in a brokered settlement of the Egyptian secular-religious divide. But then on-line, the Times has updated its reporting. Al Nour is suspending its participation in the interim government. It seems that the consequences of martial law are getting in the way.
The thing about martial law, national self-interest, Deciders and religious conservatives is that the ball in the court of power is moveable, elastic, without ethical concerns, always strategic, making no friends and having only allies as long as they serve your purpose.
What kind of Egypt – and world – does that leave us with?
Perhaps the Decider knows the answer to that question, too.