Mubarak has finally resigned on the day 32 years ago the Shah was removed from Iran. The Egyptian Army is now in charge. So much for the grand revolution for freedom Big Media is trying to sell. The revolution has already been betrayed.
This is not the fall of the Berlin Wall or the removal of Ceausescu or the fall of the Soviet. In those remarkable revolutions the transition was without any doubt from tyranny to freedom. In those liberating revolutions the people demanded freedom and won. In Egypt today, the Army is now in charge.
What has happened and what should the United States do now?
Barack Obama has driven the foreign policy cart into the
ditch abyss. Obama thought that his personality would prevent other actors on the world stage from perusing their interests. Early on Obama went to Cairo, snubbed Israel, and gave a speech which distorted history. Obama followed up that speech to the Muslim world with a visit to Saudi Arabia to bow before the Saudi king. Now the King of Saudi Arabia has replied with a kick to Obama on his bowing ass:
“US President Barack Obama spoke with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia Wednesday to discuss events in Egypt. The Saudi King reportedly said that in the case that the United States withdraws its financial support for Cairo, that his kingdom would prop up Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s regime, The Times reported.
According to the report, the Saudi king told Obama not to push Mubarak too hard, so as not to humiliate him amid the ongoing protests demanding his ouster.”
The United States had some leverage with the Egyptian military due to the billion plus dollars the Egyptian Army received from the United States. What the Saudi King did was cut those tendons of influence by assuring the Egyptian Army that the Saudi kingdom would pay the bills. After a few short years, Barack Obama has undermined almost to nonexistence American influence in the most important state in the Arab/Muslim world.
The Egyptian Army is less like the American army and more like the Iranian Army. In Egypt and Iran the army owns businesses and the upper ranks are often wealthy. The Egyptian Army now has absolute control of the country but it already had achieved many of its aims before today’s events:
“Analysis: Egypt military in power grab amid unrest
After two weeks of protests, Egypt’s military now has four of its own in the nation’s top government posts and thousands of its soldiers providing security in the streets.
The military, already the country’s most powerful institution, has taken advantage of the unrest to solidify its authority, using a combination of force and public relations to deliver what amounts to a soft coup in a country where it is widely viewed as the ultimate guarantor of national interests.”
Vice President Omar Suleiman, a former army general and also the chief of intelligence is now the latest dictator. Mubarak was a dictator and a former air force commander. The revered and deservedly respected Anwar Sadat was also a general and a dictator. Not much has changed other than the cheers on the streets. The Egyptian Army is in charge once again:
“It gave the country all four of its presidents since young army officers seized power in a 1952 coup that toppled the monarchy. It has over the past six decades lowered its public profile, but nevertheless remains Egypt’s most powerful institution.
The recipient of $1.3 billion in annual U.S. aid, it has in recent years ventured into business, strengthening its hand with lucrative government contracts in construction, road building and food production. For decades, its generals have been given key government posts after retirement, including serving in the Cabinet, as heads of government departments, provincial governors and mayors.
“Any successor to Mubarak who does not enjoy the support of the senior military brass will be actively undermined and thwarted by the generals,” said Augustus Richard Norton, a Middle East expert from Boston University.
The military’s stealth offensive to take control of the country is multi-tiered. [snip]
“We have two options to resolve this crisis: either dialogue and understanding, or a coup,” Suleiman sternly warned in the meeting with editors. “A coup can be either beneficial or detrimental, but it could lead to further irrational steps and we want to avoid reaching that point.”
A “soft coup” is a polite way of saying “bloody coup in white gloves”. A coup, soft or hard, is still a coup. The Egyptian Army is settling scores and consolidating power to cheers in the streets from the gullible:
“Taking advantage of the political vacuum created by the massive demonstrations, the military swiftly moved to settle old scores with two main rival groups. One consists of the mogul businessmen-politicians who have over the past decade rallied around Mubarak’s powerful son Gamal to dominate society, causing friction with the military’s own economic interests.
The second is Mubarak’s ruling National Democratic Party, in which the younger Mubarak rapidly rose through the ranks to become its de facto leader.
Nurtured by the two Mubaraks, these two groups have risen to such a position of power in recent years that they posed a credible threat to the military’s longtime domination, according to the analysts and a senior NDP official who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.”
To cheers from the streets and the Big Blog Boys and affiliate Hausfraus, as well as the almost un-American Obama supporters in the White House, trying to undermine the State Department – the Egyptian Army is grabbing power and getting rid of its rivals. The Egyptian Army is consolidating power unto itself.
While many understandably want to cheer “the victory of the Egyptian people” what is happening is Egypt is the Army has used the people to grab total power. If the army had wanted to, it could have crushed the people in the streets. That the army did not move is because the army did not want to move. The pawns in the streets were useful to the army.
Many in the West cheered when the dictatorial Shah was removed in Iran (32 years ago today). Those same cheers are heard in the West today. Many in the West also delude themselves into thinking that the Egyptian Army will carry out the will of the people and lead to “democracy”. The Egyptian Army however is now in charge and the United States because of Barack Obama little to no influence with the Egyptian Army.
Those that put their Hope for Change in the Egyptian Army will soon be disappointed:
“Don’t Count on Egypt’s Army
We cannot trust Egypt’s military to combat Islamists.
‘My name is Khalid Islambouli,” the assassin thundered. “I have slain Pharaoh, and I do not fear death!” This was at an annual state parade in Cairo on October 6, 1981. Islambouli, swelling with a delirious pride, had just strafed the reviewing stand with bullets, killing Egyptian president Anwar Sadat and hurtling his nation into chaos.
That was the plan. Islambouli, like several of his coconspirators, was a Muslim Brotherhood veteran who’d drunk deep the incitements of the Ikhwan’s martyred leader, Sayyid Qutb, but lost patience with the organization’s Fabian approach to revolution. He’d joined Islamic Jihad, one of several splinter groups that would later be folded into al-Qaeda by another Brotherhood alum, Ayman Zawahiri.
They’d hoped to trigger an Islamic upheaval by “cutting off the head of the snake” and seizing power in the ensuing chaos. But apart from murdering the president, the plot failed. Power passed seamlessly to Sadat’s vice president, Hosni Mubarak, who cracked down brutally on the terrorists.
The story is worth remembering as chaos grips Egypt yet again. In the drama three decades ago, one tie beyond citizenship united all the major players — the villain, the victim, the heroes who put down the uprising, and the bureaucrat who emerged from obscurity to grab the autocratic reins he has yet to relinquish: They were all members of the Egyptian military.
The great smile on the face of the Egyptian military will soon fade and the remainder will be bared teeth of brass:
“It’s true enough that Egypt’s highly professional armed forces constitute the most revered institution in the country. Their professionalism has been purchased at a cost of nearly $40 billion from U.S. taxpayers since 1978, when Sadat made the peace with Israel that drove the jihadists to kill him. Thus, when analysts herald the stability of Egypt’s military — fortified by a generation of training and cooperative relations with U.S. warriors — the implication is that this will be to our benefit. Their patriotism will prevent Mubarak’s worst excesses and usher him out the door, and their pro-Western bent will guard against that worst of all worlds: the very sharia state Khalid Islambouli and his fellow jihadists sought to impose 30 years ago.
Even if everything we’d like to believe about the Egyptian military were true, the dream of secular stability would be very difficult to realize. Thanks to the West’s conflating of democratic processes with democratic culture, the crisis is careering toward a premature “settlement” by popular elections, to be held no later than September. Unfortunately, that is years before civil society — stunted by the powerful influence of fundamentalist Islam, the constant threat of terrorism, and Mubarak’s iron-fisted rule — can evolve sufficiently for real self-government.”
It is sad that many on the left, as well as some on the right (Iraq anyone?) conflate elections with democracy. Over and over on “left” blogs we read that the “will of the people” even if they choose the Muslim Brotherhood must be respected because they have the democratic right to choose. What these commentators refuse to acknowledge is that elections are not the end goal.
“The Egyptian military is a reflection not of its American trainers but of Egyptian society. Its popularity in the country owes in large part to the fact that almost all able-bodied men are conscripted to serve for one to three years. Its uppermost ranks, from which rose Egypt’s presidents — Mubarak, Sadat, and modern Egypt’s founder, Gamal Abdel Nasser — are today largely pro-American. The rank and file, however, have always included thousands of Muslim fundamentalists and radicals. Unquestionably, military service is a leveling experience, creating a common bond that unites different social strata. We should not overstate its effect, though. The military features all the complexity and divisions of Egypt at large.”
What can we do now? What should we do now? First, take off the Hopium tinted glasses. Understand the ditch Obama has driven American policy into.
Second, as we have written before – do everything to protect Egypt from the Muslim Brotherhood, Iran, and Syria:
“American policy should be aimed at making sure that Egypt moves towards a modern society which provides economic opportunity for its people. What is most important is that American policy must be aimed at protecting Egypt from takeover by Islamic extremists. American policy must be particularly aimed at preventing Iran from winning what many understand to be a “proxy war” between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Evil choice, meet Evil choice.”
Third, the United States should covertly and overtly help what remains of the opposition in Iran (which celebrates the 32nd Anniversary of the overthrow of the Shah today) and Syria. Perhaps Saudi Arabia can be persuaded to publicly and overtly assist, in the name of their own self-interest, to undermine the Iranian and Syrian regimes.
Obama has bungled the difficult and always ugly American relationship with the Wahhabist Saudi leadership. There is a chance however that the Saudi’s can help, again in the name of self-interest for both parties, the Egyptian Army to promote the forces within that army that are hostile and suspicious of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Finally, the United States State Department should help build up the democratic forces in Egypt. Egyptian-Americans, many of whom are prominent American citizens should be encouraged to return to their native land (of course ideological enemies such as the “Blind Sheikh” and Ali Mohammed should not be included in this group) to temporarily assist in setting up democratic parties and democratic institutions. The Egyptian Army might be persuaded that allowing democratic forces to emerge will not be as detrimental to them as they think.
Despite Barack Obama, the United States must promote its interests in the Middle East. In days to come we will describe further the battles between the State Department and the near un-American Obama supporters in the White House who undermine American interests in the Middle East. We will also discuss the full horror of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The United States must prepare to defend its interests and the flickering flame of freedom in the Middle East. Those celebrating the eruption in Egyptian streets will eventually recognize that Hope is not a replacement for reality. We don’t want to be churlish. We wish we could celebrate and widely smile as ordinary Egyptians rout a dictator.
While we wish the Egyptian people well and salute those who are fighting for freedom in the streets, we can’t help but be wary even if our fingers are crossed and our hearts filled with the prayer that we are totally wrong about the events in the streets of Egypt:
“The worldwide euphoria that has greeted the Egyptian uprising is understandable. All revolutions are blissful in the first days. The romance could be forgiven if this were Paris 1789. But it is not. In the intervening 222 years, we have learned how these things can end.
The Egyptian awakening carries promise and hope and of course merits our support. But only a child can believe that a democratic outcome is inevitable. And only a blinkered optimist can believe that it is even the most likely outcome.
Yes, the Egyptian revolution is broad-based. But so were the French and the Russian and the Iranian revolutions. Indeed in Iran, the revolution only succeeded – the shah was long opposed by the mullahs – when the merchants, the housewives, the students and the secularists joined to bring him down.
And who ended up in control? The most disciplined, ruthless and ideologically committed – the radical Islamists.
This is why our paramount moral and strategic interest in Egypt is real democracy in which power does not devolve to those who believe in one man, one vote, one time.
The grand promises of this day have as a soundtrack to our ears Beethoven’s magnificent Eroica Symphony:
“Originally the work was to be titled the “Bonaparte Symphony” (New Groves), as a tribute to Napoleon Bonaparte, the French Consul who had begun to radically reform Europe after conducting sweeping military campaigns across the continent. In 1804, Napoleon crowned himself emperor, a move which angered Beethoven. As legend has it, the composer ripped through the title page and later renamed the symphony the Eroica because he refused to dedicate one of his pieces to the man he now considered a “tyrant”.
The Egyptian people fighting for freedom in the streets will likely taste bitter tears after this glorious night in their history. Their revolution has already been betrayed.