This is part of Marc H. Ellis’s “Exile and the Prophetic” feature for Mondoweiss. To read the entire series visit the archive page.
I don’t know who is more difficult to believe–Prime Minister Netanyahu thumping his point home to the UN Secretary General that the real problem of the Middle East is the refusal of the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state or various Egyptian Generals claiming that the real problem in Egypt are terrorists and traitors?
Then there are the statements of various American officials pledging support for the Egyptian military with the caveat that it goes no further on the road to violence, then when more violence ensues reiterating American support – if that’s the end of the violence. Since the violence continues to escalate, where is the point when the “no further” becomes “too far?”
President Obama has to decide what that point is and what to do when it is reached. Obviously the administration’s Plan B must be unappealing otherwise it would have invoked weeks ago. Or has the American foreign policy establishment already been through Plan B, C, D and beyond?
The New York Times reports today that American – and European – officials were close to striking a deal with the Egyptian military and the Muslim Brotherhood that had both sides on the road to compromise. In the end, though, the military balked. They held fast to the notion that only decimating the Muslim Brotherhood would secure Egypt’s future. Or was it their own future they were concerned about?
Where was Israel on US aid to the Egyptian military and the negotiations with the Muslim Brotherhood? Where they’ve been from the beginning of the coup. Who has Israel been allied to? With the same countries since the beginning of the coup. Here’s how the Times lays it out:
Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan, the Emirati foreign minister, went to Washington last month and urged the Americans not to cut off aid. The emirates, along with Saudi Arabia, had swiftly supported the military takeover with a pledge of billions of dollars, undermining Western threats to cut off critical loans or aid.
The Israelis, whose military had close ties to General Sisi from his former post as head of military intelligence, were supporting the takeover as well. Western diplomats say that General Sisi and his circle appeared to be in heavy communication with Israeli colleagues, and the diplomats believed the Israelis were also undercutting the Western message by reassuring the Egyptians not to worry about American threats to cut off aid.
If anyone knows about America’s empty threats, Israel does. Israel encouraged Egypt to play the US in the same way Israel has for decades. Perhaps the new collusion between Israel and Egypt is playing the US together. The leadership of Israel and Egypt make quite a pair. Twins?
It’s amazing how inflated and conflated those in power can be. And how power can be played, when the deck is stacked in certain ways. But, then, when we move away from our favorite targets, politicians and governments, the movements supposedly invested in progressive change are often little better. According to Egypt Independent, yesterday Tamarrod’s website carried this incitement:
The Tamarrod movement (Rebellion) started a petition under the name “Stop Foreign Aid” aimed at rejecting U.S. aid and scrapping the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel.
On its website, Tamarrod said that the unduly meddling of the U.S. in Egyptian internal affairs and its support of terrorist groups prompted their calls to reject the U.S. aid and call off the peace treaty with Israel, so that Egypt would be at liberty to secure its borders as necessary.
The statement further explained that the aim of this initiative is to regain Egypt’s complete sovereignty and control over its internal affairs and to put an end to years of humiliation and political-dependency.
They called on Egyptians to sign their petition, announcing that a digital version would be uploaded on the movement’s website.
When movements adopt the rhetoric of regaining “sovereignty” and ending years of “humiliation and political dependency,” we enter fascist terrain. The rhetoric of the military and its supporters are already there. As importantly, the actions of the military, police and, according to reports, armed civilians can only be emboldened by such rhetoric. But, then, if the American administration has already passed through Plan B, C and D without another plan in evidence, the question for the leadership of Egypt and its supporters is if they have any other plan than direct violence and fascist incitement.
Banning the Muslim Brotherhood as a political force is one thing. Eliminating them altogether is still another. But during the last days of violence, another question has arisen: Are the army and its allies losing ground? Is it possible that the armed might of the Egypt government might lose the battle in the streets and because of its violence the hearts and minds of Egypt’s citizens?
Perhaps it’s simple irony that in the violence of the last days the retrial of former President Mubarak has been postponed. This as ex-President Morsi is threatened with trial for his alleged crimes against the state. These formers, though, are the lucky ones. They’re alive and well-fed, ostensibly safe from the violence in the streets.
What if both ex-Presidents are joined on trial by General Sisi? That is, if he is ousted, with the will of the people, the very same will the general claimed as his mandate to overthrow President Morsi – after the people’s will was invoked in the overthrow of President Mubarak.
Perhaps a separate tribunal can be established for the ex-leaders of Egypt.After all, the number of formers is growing at a rapid rate, the cycle of violence and incitement is intensifying and no one – not even General Sisi–knows where the Egyptian “revolution” will end.