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Counterrevolutions and military coups have always played the ‘foreign conspiracy’ card to create distrust and label anyone who opposes them a traitor. The foreign threat creates a state of national hysteria that the regime exploits to cover up its crimes and justify repression. It is no surprise that Mubarak era voices both inside and outside the government all of which currently seem to be under direct orders of the intelligence agencies harangue us day and night about ‘Brotherhood terrorism’ and its US/Zionist backing. Consequently any US/European statements referring to the coup or the massacres that ensued are considered part and parcel of this devilish plan to reinstate the Brotherhood and assault Egypt and its security. Those opposing military rule are not only accused of supporting the “ Brotherhood terrorists” and the Brotherhood. They are considered traitors backing the foreign plot to bring down Egypt. All who rally for democracy, all who challenge military policy and all who join strikes or sitins are considered enemies and agents of the ZionistAmerican plot. All who criticize Sisi or consider recent events in Egypt to be a counterrevolutionary bloody coup aiming to reinstate Mubarak’s Egypt are not only ‘Brotherhood terrorists’ but should be charged with high treason. From Mubarak to Sisi Let us take a step back to analyse. Mubarak’s Egypt which Egyptians revolted against in 2011 was based on three central interlinked strategies: The first was a policy of neoliberal capitalism that impoverished the majority of Egyptians to the benefit of a handful of businessmen, multinationals and the heads of state institutions with military and security at their forefront. The second was a tyrannical dictatorship that facilitated the implementation of the first strategy. The third was a coalition of military, security and political forces with American imperialism. This was to protect the interests of the US and its main partners the Zionist state and the oilrich gulf states and the kingdom of Saudi Arabia particularly. Throughout Mubarak’s 30year rule Egypt maintained its role as the US and Israel’s chief regional ally. It helped quash the Palestinian revolution. It contributed to America’s war on Iraq and it facilitated all possible services to US/Israeli imperialism. Mubarak’s foreign policy was in the same vein and was spearheaded by the army that was armed, trained, funded and inherently tied to the US military. The same goes for the intelligence and security services that played a significant role in America’s war on terror and in helping to protect US regional interests. These axes are the essence of the state that Egyptians revolted against in January 2011. The US administration backed Mubarak to the bitter end until it, and the Egyptian military establishment, realised that the only way to save the regime was to sacrifice Mubarak and a few other figureheads. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces then stepped in to protect the very same principles Mubarak had represented. The same tyranny – the same capitalism – the same strategic
alliance with Washington, Tel Aviv and Riyadh. But the revolution had left deep cracks in the regime and the military needed a partner that could comprehend and abort the continuous revolution. This was the cue for the role of the Muslim Brotherhood the largest political organisation, which enjoyed the greatest influence among the masses. The Brotherhood, the military and the US It goes without saying that European and US opposition to the coup had little to do with humanity or democracy. These imperialist powers operate only in accordance with their interests. Neither did condemnation of the coup come from choosing the Brotherhood over their historical allies, namely the army and secret service. So what is the US and its European partners’ imperialist strategy in our region and towards Egypt specifically? The strategy can be broken down to two main elements. The first, naturally, is US political and military domination of oilrich Arab nations and specifically Saudi Arabia. The second is securing the Zionist state that serves as the military ally central to US control over the region. The importance of the region’s oil to the US has increased over the last three decades for several reasons. Firstly, oil from the region continues to be the main source of energy for many major capitalist states namely China, Japan and the EU. US control of this valuable prize is central for Washington to maintain its position at the top of the capitalist pyramid despite the rapid ascent of capitalist powerhouses like China. Secondly, and particularly recently, Saudi and the Gulf sheikhdoms have become central financial centres in the global capitalist system. This role became vital as a result of the 2008 financial crisis. Here we see logic behind the increasing centrality of the ‘Carter doctrine’ that declared, after the Iranian revolution, that any threat to the Arab oilrich countries would be considered a direct threat to vital US interests and would be met with force where necessary. This was demonstrated in the war on Iraq of 1991 and its invasion in 2003. Washington considered the Arab revolutions, and particularly the Egyptian revolution, a nightmare even more dangerous than the Iranian 1979 revolution. The possibility of these revolutions spreading to the Gulf States posed and continues to pose a serious threat to strategic interests of the U.S and its European allies. Revolutionary forces coming to power pose another threat. Peace accords with the Zionist state could be scrapped and compromise the Israel’s influence and even long term existence. The US backed the Muslim Brotherhood because it became obvious during SCAF’s rule that force alone could not halt the state of revolution. The Muslim Brotherhood would uphold the previous regime’s strategic alliances. With America’s blessings a deal was made between the Brotherhood and the Army. The Brotherhood’ ascent to power was accepted in return for maintaining Mubarak era policies and alliances and the guaranteeing that the regime’s vital interests would not be threatened while public anger would be actively dissipated and the revolution aborted. The Brotherhood were more than ready to play this despicable role and immediately pledged allegiance to Washington, to the Camp David accords and to the Saudi king whose hand they rushed to kiss. Retribution for the Martyrs and all other revolutionary demands, were thrown out of the window. Army and Police commanders were granted safe exit and economic policies initiated by Mubarak, his businessmen and generals were maintained.
The five months preceding June 30 Egypt witnessed the largest level of protests and strikes across the globe. In these five months Egypt saw more strikes and protests than in the whole of 2012 despite that year witnessing more protests that the entire previous decade. (The Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights and Democracy Index Report Centre for International Development, May 2013) It became clear that Morsi’s presidency and Egyptians’ escalating revolutionary anger was threatening, not only Morsi and the Brotherhood, but Mubarak’s state itself, including its generals and businessmen. The escalating revolutionary wave preceding June 30 struck fear in the heart of the US administration. The generals and the remnants of the old regime plotted to curb the revolutionary wave in the build up to the July 3 coup. The subsequent massacres and the blatant reinstatement of the old apparatus are merely a prelude to the counterrevolution whose birth we are currently witnessing. The US is not plotting to reinstate the Brotherhood. The US fears that Sisi’s crackdown could backfire and prove detrimental to all parties. One scenario could take Egypt down the path of Algeria; a proliferation of terrorism and a prolonged civil war threatening American and European strategic interests. The Suez canal, Israel’s security and waves of illegal immigration across the Mediterranean are all factors. Another possibility is that Sisi is drawn into confrontation with yet another revolutionary wave, as were SCAF and Morsi before him. This round could genuinely threaten the Egyptian ruling class, the deep state and regional US imperialist interests at large. The dispute between Sisi and the US is simply over the approach adopted to stabilise the situation to the benefit of both historical partners. At the end of the day this row will not lead to a breakdown in their relations or any real sanctions. US political and economic investment in its relationship with Egypt and its army will not be traded for the Brotherhood an organisation which has already proven its failure. Perhaps the Brotherhood and the wider Islamic movement’s guaranteed reaction to assault and massacres is what helped Sisi the most. An armed terrorist campaign targeting not only the army and police, but also tens of churches and Christian institutions was their kneejerk reaction. Despicable sectarian incitement and massacres ensued as though it were the Copts, and not the generals and the police, that staged the coup. The objective of linking the Islamic movement and its resistance (whether armed or unarmed) to foreign conspiracies is not only to demonise the Islamists and others who oppose the counterrevolution. It is also a promotional campaign falsely claiming the army’s patriotism and its leader’s symbolic link to Gamal Abdel Nasser and the era of national liberation. Unfortunately many Liberals and those formerly on the Left are contributing to this campaign. An example is this statement from the Egyptian Communist Party that refers to “Islamic terrorism and its links to the Zionist American alliance that aims to breakup and dismantle our nation and the region with the aim of redrawing the map within the framework of the Greater Middle East project that places the United States as the world leader, Israel the strongest nation in the region and weakens the state of Egypt. The rest of the Arab nations would simply be tentacles of the TurkishIsraeli American alliance.” The statement also refers to the necessity of “standing by the police and the army in its war against terrorist religious fascism” etc. It is as though it were a battle of national liberation and Sisi had just nationalised the Suez Canal.
The Socialist Popular Alliance Party suggests the same regarding “the conspiracy” and ends one of its recent statements with “working together to confront the Zionist American plot.” All the above is in stark contrast to events on the ground. The main backers of Sisi’s bloody campaign are the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Emirates on the one hand and Israel on the other. In other words, the main centres of counterrevolution in the Arab worlds over the last six decades and the staunch backers of the Mubarak regime. Saudi Arabia, Sisi and the opposition The Gulf States’ economic power and influence has grown over the past two decades. The center of power lies in the SaudiEmirati axis that has become a global powerhouse central to funding the capitalist system. According to statistics published in Fortune Magazine the value of petroleum exports from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) reached $500 billion in 2008. The foreign investments by these same countries reached $530 billion in the period 20022006. This included $300 billion in the United States and $60 billion in the Middle East. This investment tripled in the period 20022009 to a total estimated at over $1.4 trillion. Headed by the SaudiEmirati alliance, the Gulf States have become the third largest holders of US treasury bonds after China and Japan. This economic weight is reflected both in these countries’ positioning in American policy and in their growing influence over the Arab region and Egypt specifically. The relation between the Egyptian economy and the Gulf has transformed from Egypt merely exporting labour to being actual partners of the Egyptian ruling class and the military establishment in all areas of the economy from agriculture and industry to real estate investments and financing. There is no space here to detail the extent and nature of this partnership but it is suffice to state that it exceeds that of American and European investment in most areas particularly with banks, real estate and construction. (for details see: Gilbert Achcar, The People Want. Adam Hanieh, Capitalism and Class in the Gulf Arab States) It is logical that these states are at the forefront of support for Mubarak’s regime, generals and businessmen. It is no surprise that they are the main supporters of General Sissi and the counterrevolution and it is clear why Sisi has bet on the will and ability of the Saudi King and his partners to fund the destruction of the Egyptian revolution and the resurrection of the old state. The King of Saudi Arabia the center of backwardness and tyranny and the oasis of Wahhabism and Islamic fundamentalism – was the first to congratulate the coup and dedicated a speech to praising Sisi and supporting his war on terrorism. He promised him countless billions. What is odd is not the King’s position or his tribute to Sisi, but the reaction of the Egyptian political players who were considered to be not only in opposition but even revolutionary. The Tamarod movement showered praise in its speech stating “respect of Egypt’s legitimacy and its political will”, effectively saluting King Abdullah. The Nasserist and head of the Egyptian Popular Current, Hamdeen Sabbahy, praised Saudi’s role as the provider and confirmed his support of the regime’s actions against protesters. On his private Twitter account Sabbahy wrote “A salute to the stance taken by Saudi and the Emirates in support of Egypt.” This King, this archenemy of the Egyptian revolution, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, Washington and Tel Aviv became a hero in these people’s eyes! Israel and Sisi What we hear nothing of in the security services’ media is the position taken by the leaders of the
Zionist enemy State. One would assume that if Sisi was a true national hero he would reclaim Egypt’s independence and the Zionists, shaking in their boots, would call for the return of the Brotherhood. The reality could not be further from these constructed fantasies. Binyamin BenEliezer, the former Israeli Defense Minister and an ally of Mubarak stated “In my opinion, had Sisi not taken these swift decisive steps the Egyptian regime would have become similar to that of Iran. We would have faced an Egyptian version of Revolutionary Guards on our Southern border. He also stated that the peace accord would be safe in Sissi’s hands and that cooperation between the Egyptian and Israeli armies is ongoing. (Maariv 20/08/2013) The previous Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Barak, declared that the whole world endorses and supports Sisi. (Interview with CNN 16/08/2013) An Israeli spokesman told ‘The New York Times’ that Sisi’s regime should be supported because it is the best option available at the moment. Mordechai Kedar, researcher at The Begin–Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, expressed similar opinions in the ‘Jerusalem Post’. In practical terms, AIPAC is intensively lobbying in Washington for support for Sisi and to prevent a cessation of aid to the Egyptian Army (New York Times 18/8/2013) In other words, the socalled enemy of the Egyptian people that counterrevolutionary media claim supports Islamic Terrorism in Egypt are in fact in full support of Sisi. They stand fast behind the Egyptian State and institutions, their coup, their counterrevolution and of course their crushing of all opposition, first and foremost the Muslim Brotherhood. So misleading. Such a capacity to lie and fabricate an alternative reality. It could not be further from the truth. The exceptions: Qatar and Turkey Qatar alone bucks the trend of the oilrich Gulf Sates. While these States tow the political line dictated by the SaudiEmirati axis, Qatar attempts to maintain a little independence from the Mother Kingdom. Futile as it may be, and despite being dwarfed in size and populace, Qatar is in a state of permanent tension and competition with Saudi foreign policy. Qatar is able to entertain its ambitions because of the massive wealth it generates from natural gas and oil exports. The value of which exceeded $43 billion in the year 2010/2011 and is controlled by the Emir of Qatar. This continuous flow of wealth is used by the Qatari Emir to gain regional political weight beyond direct Saudi influence. There are countless examples of these ventures: Establishing close relations with Iran while at the same time extending an open hand to Israel and hosting the region’s largest US military base. Backing Hamas and facilitating talks with Fatah. Supporting Saad El Hariri’s party and then bankrolling the reconstruction of South Lebanon after the 2006 war. But Qatar made two particularly significant moves in its quest to create an independent national voice. When Muslim Brotherhood relations with the Saudi Sheikhdom were shaky, Qatar took the Brotherhood under its wing. Since the 80’s Qatar has provided abode for the Brotherhood’s leading theoretician Yuseff El Qardawi. Then there is Aljazeera; Qatar has allowed, particularly since the start of the Egyptian revolution, this media heavyweight to act as a Brotherhood mouthpiece. This is all against the backdrop of long standing tensions between the Brotherhood and Saudi Arabia stemming from the Brotherhood’s opposition to America’s war on Iraq in the 1990’s. This is the context in which to understand this small Statelet and it ambitious Amir’s support for the Brotherhood before and during Morsi’s one year in power. It also explains its stance against
Morsi’s ousting and Sissi’s rule. Turkey’s position is simpler and more rational than its Qatari counterpart. With his Islamist popular base, rapid economic growth and foiled attempt at joining the EU, Erdogan is in dire need of gaining regional geopolitical weight modeled on the old Ottoman Empire. This vision began to materialize with the arrival of Islamists to power in Tunisia and Egypt. It is clear, within this framework, why Erdogan condemned Sissi’s coup and violent attack on the Brotherhood. His concern stems from the negative effects this change has on Turkish regional interests and certainly not from his humanity or thirst for revolutionary change. The counterrevolution claims that the world supports the Brotherhood. The Brotherhood would indeed have accepted assistance from the devil himself but facts on the ground indicate that Sissi’s coup is strongly supported by Israel, Saudi Arabia and indirectly by an anxious Washington. The Egyptian people’s revolution will not succeed without a genuine break from the imperialist agenda enforce by America, Israel and their regional allies, be they Saudi Arabia and the Emirates or Qatar and Turkey. Morsi failed to secure any autonomy or break the constraints of dependency. By throwing himself into the arms of the kings and princes of Gulf oil, Sissi is following suit. Sadly reality matters little in the face of the fictitious media frenzy the counterrevolution is orchestrating to cover up their crimes. Accusations of treason will not stop at the Brotherhood. As suggested at the start of this article, accusations of betrayal will be extended to all who oppose the coup and demand their rights. As well as the usual suspects, vilifications will be peddled by Liberals, Leftists and intellectuals that have sold their souls to the generals. All this does not warrant despair or hopelessness for the Egyptian revolution. This is not the first or last time the regime has sought to deceive the public. Egyptians have proved time and time again that they quickly see through the lies and, with revolutionary experience behind them, recognize their true enemies. There are many more battles to come. Some we will lose, others we will win but we will continue to learn from our mistakes and sacrifices until our revolution succeeds.
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