[News] Obama’s aid cut to Egypt is a sham

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Oct 10 12:39:45 EDT 2013

  Obama’s aid cut to Egypt is a sham

Submitted by Ali Abunimah on Thu, 10/10/2013 - 07:10

The Obama administration’s announced suspension of some military aid to 
Egypt is a sham.

Far from actually withdrawing significant US support for the Egyptian 
military dictatorship that overthrew the country’s elected president on 
3 July, the package of measures is designed to reinforce and normalize 
US cooperation with the coup regime, secure Israel’s interests and US 
regional hegemony.

It also ensures that Egypt continues to help Israel to maintain the 
collective punishment of almost 1.7 million Palestinians in Gaza 

    Israel lobby pressure

Obama has been under intense pressure from the Israel lobby to maintain 
US support for the coup regime.

This week, for instance, prominent Israel lobbyist Jeffrey Goldberg 
appealed to Obama to maintain the aid 
in order to benefit Israel and prop up Arab client regimes including 
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan.

Goldberg sees these Arab dictatorships as part of a region-wide 
sectarian confrontation with Iran, in which the Arab regimes are on the 
same side as Israel and the United States.

Goldberg was especially anxious that the Gaza siege 
<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/gaza-siege> continue:

    Egypt is pressing hard against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, cutting off
    the flow of weapons and sealing smuggling tunnels. A weak Hamas is
    in the best interests of the US, Israel and, most important, the
    rival Palestinian Authority, with which Israel is currently
    negotiating under US supervision.

But, of course, the siege does not simply ensure a “weak Hamas.” While 
there’s no evidence any weapons supplies to the resistance have been 
disrupted, what have been choked are basic supplies for the population 
and the ability of Gaza students, patients and others to leave what is 
in effect a giant prison 

The Israeli-Egyptian siege imposes brutal collective punishment on the 
whole population of Gaza. Goldberg, as a former Israeli prison guard 
clearly has no moral problem with this.

Goldberg’s demands are consistent with the messaging that has come from 
Israel and its lobby since the first day of the coup in Egypt.

They are also consistent with broader US “core interests” outlined by 
Obama in his UN speech 
of maintaining US regional hegemony and dominance, which means ensuring 
the existence of client regimes like Egypt’s.

    Obama administration explains

On 9 October, the State Department released the transcript 
<http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2013/10/215262.htm> of a conference 
call between reporters and five unnamed senior US officials explaining 
Obama’s measures toward Egypt.

The officials explain that the measures will include delaying the 
deliveries of some major weapons systems, including Apache helicopters, 
Harpoon missiles and parts for M1A1 tanks.

They also include suspending direct cash assistance – about $260 million 
annually – to the “interim government.”

But a close reading of the 5,800-word transcript makes clear that the 
aid suspension is merely symbolic.

Most forms of US military support for the Egyptian army will continue 
and there’s no reason to believe the coup regime will be affected by the 
announced measures.

I will excerpt some of the key passages that indicate just how hollow 
and cyncial Obama’s move is.

    Critical of Morsi but not of massacres

It is notable that the Obama administration is still far more critical 
of Egypt’s deposed elected president Muhammad Morsi than it is of the 
military regime.

“Senior Administration Official Number One” repeatedly criticized Morsi, 
effectively providing justifications for the coup. For example:

    Now since then, we recognize, and the President [Obama] noted this
    in his remarks to the General Assembly a couple of weeks ago, that
    *Muhammad Morsi was democratically elected, but he proved unwilling
    or unable to govern in a way that was fully inclusive.*

But look how the same official characterizes the actions of the military 
regime headed by General Abdulfattah al-Sisi and fronted by a puppet 
civilian “interim government”:

    Now since then, the interim government that replaced him [Morsi]
    last summer, we recognized had the support of millions of Egyptians
    who believed that that revolution had taken a wrong turn. But we
    think that it too has *made decisions inconsistent with inclusive
    democracy*, which sort of leads us to where we are now.

First, the Obama administration still seems attached to the dubious 
claim that the coup had the support of “millions.”

Is this based on anything other than fabricated and unrealistic crowd 

But more important at this moment: think about the phrase “decisions 
inconsistent with inclusive democracy.”

In fact, what the coup regime has done in Egypt since 3 July is 
perpetrate repeated massacres of unarmed civilians unprecedented in 
Egyptian history, leaving thousands dead and injured. The most recent 
massacre of more than 50 people occurred on 6 October 

The coup regime has carried out a brutal political crackdown, pursuing 
and arresting thousands of people for their political views or perceived 
political views.

/None/ of this is mentioned by the US officials.

    It’s still not a “coup”

“Senior Administration Official Number One” was also careful to 
emphasize that: “Nothing has changed in terms of approaching what you 
called the coup restriction.”

The Obama administration still “didn’t make a determination, haven’t 
made a determination, don’t think we need to make a determination, are 
acting consistent with the provisions of the law and we’ll continue to 
do so.”

US law requires that military assistance to a foreign country be 
suspended when a “coup” takes place in that country. By refusing to call 
what happened a coup, the Obama administration aims to get around the 
law and ensure that it can continue to support the Egyptian dictatorship.

    Obama loves Sisi

So there’s no mention of the Egypt coup regime’s massacres or mass 
arrests – unless we consider these to be covered by the absurd euphemism 
“decisions inconsistent with inclusive democracy.”

And it’s still not a coup. But also, check out the ongoing love affair 
the US has with Egyptian coup leader al-Sisi and his clique.

Here’s how “Senior Administration Official Number Three” characterized 
US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s telephone conversation with al-Sisi:

    *It was very friendly.* In fact, Secretary Hagel noted that he had
    spoken with Minister al-Sisi more than any of his other
    counterparts, actually. I think they’ve spoken with each other over
    twenty times in the last several months. And he said they’ve done so
    for a reason. It underscores the importance of the US-Egypt
    relationship. And Secretary Hagel stressed the long history and
    friendship between the United States and the Egyptian people, and
    Minister *al-Sisi concurred and affirmed* that as well.

These are not just formalities. As the same official stressed, the US 
would be doing nothing to freeze out al-Sisi and his clique:

    General al-Sisi, as many of you know, is himself a graduate of the
    Army War College. And *this week, right now in the United States,
    there are Egyptian military officers in classrooms, receiving
    training about counterterrorism, meeting shared security objectives,
    and really building those relationships that have been maintained
    for generations. And that will continue.* And that was really the
    spirit of their call, that the ongoing important parts of the
    relationship are going on, and both Minister al-Sisi and Secretary
    Hagel committed to taking steps to continue that.

US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt famously said 
<http://www.southendpress.org/2005/items/7417/Prologue> of Nicaraguan 
dictator Anastasio Somoza in 1939, “Somoza may be a son of a bitch, but 
*he’s our son of a bitch*.”

The same logic clearly applies to al-Sisi and his accomplices in the 
massacres and arrests of thousands of Egyptians.

    A slap on the wrist

Naturally, in keeping with this warm relationship, a careful reading of 
the transcript indicates that Obama’s measures amount to no more than a 
slap on the wrist.

For one thing, Senior Administration Official Number One had difficulty 
putting a dollar value on the supposed sanctions in response to 
reporters’ questions:

    That actually does make it difficult -– and others will comment on
    this -– to give you specific answers on the numbers, because it’s
    not as if there’s some finite thing that has been stopped
    necessarily forever.

The official also assured that US “contractors” – the people who make 
and deliver the weapons, training and spare parts to the Egyptian 
military – will continue to be paid.

Another official was at pains to emphasize that “I think what we’re 
trying to make clear is this is not meant to be permanent…you’ll notice 
that it’s not being presented or announced in terms of definitive ends 
to any specific programs.”

That official also stressed that the measures “weren’t suggested or 
recommended in a punitive way or anything like that.”

Yes we noticed.

    Aid to Egypt is aid to Israel

Throughout the transcript, the US officials emphasized that what will 
not be affected – even temporarily or symbolically – is the aid that 
helps the Egyptian coup regime besiege Gaza:

    Secretary Hagel emphasized how important the US-Egypt relationship
    was to the stability and security for Egypt, but for the United
    States as well and the broader Middle East. And Secretary Hagel made
    the key point that the US-Egyptian security relationship and
    assistance relationship is continuing, and made the point, as Senior
    Administration Official Two said, that we are continuing to provide
    assistance on the issues that advance both our vital security
    objectives. That includes *countering terrorism, countering
    proliferation, border security, ensuring security in the Sinai,
    working with peace with Israel, and includes things that include
    also spare parts, replacement parts, along those lines.*

This was repeated:

    first was to make sure that we were continuing the things that were
    immediately needed for the goals we talked about – counterterrorism,
    Sinai, borders, the peace treaty, and keeping the peace with Israel.

    What matters to US is not the welfare of Egyptians

Last weekend I was a participant in the Istanbul World Forum meeting 
focusing on the coup in Egypt and its regional consequences 
<http://www.iwf.org.tr>, organized by Turkey’s SETA Foundation 

It was a rich set of discussions, but I want to emphasize two points, 
one I made myself and one made by other participants.

My own point: *the only red line in US-Egyptian relations is maintaining 
the Camp David treaty with Israel* and assuring Egypt’s ability to act 
as a security subcontractor for Israel.

Everything else – especially the lives, welfare and freedoms of 
Egyptians and consequently Palestinians besieged in Gaza – is 
subordinate. The Obama administration announcement about aid to Egypt 
clearly supports this view.

Secondly, a point made by several participants: the actual “security” 
situation in Sinai and along the border with Gaza does not justify by 
any stretch the Egyptian coup regime’s war footing in Sinai and against 
Palestinians in Gaza. Indeed the regime’s actions are fueling violence 
and disorder.

Rather, Sinai is being used as a pretext to justify the coup regime’s 
bloody crackdown and to incite the Egyptian population against supposed 
“foreign” enemies 
– Palestinians, Syrians and even Egypt’s own Muslim Brotherhood – while 
the regime consolidates itself in power.

Therefore, US insistence on playing along with the Sinai narrative helps 
the regime and does nothing to advance the supposed US goal of restoring 
democracy in Egypt.

That, after all, might well be the intent.

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