Sunday, August 18, 2013

egypt a tissue of lies...,

tariqramadan | It’s dangerous to be a friend of the United States in the Middle East. A fact the US government knows better than any political player in the Arab world, starting with America’s best friends! The strategy is simple: cover your tracks, forget history, don’t let cold hard facts get in the way. For the last sixty years, the United States has supported the Egyptian army and the successive dictatorial regimes (Nasser, despite tense relations, then Sadat and Mubarak) that protected their geostrategic interests, promoted “regional security” and, of course, defended Israel. Nothing has changed: the American administration was squarely behind the June 30 military coup, which was planned well in advance by the army high command and its civilian allies, including Mohammed el-Baradei. As early as 2008-2009 el-Baradei, one of the US’s key Egyptian strategic assets, had been advancing by stealth. In my Islam and the Arab Awakening I published comments by American officials about him and his involvement in the April 6 Movement (1). On the day of the coup, the US refused to describe it as such in order not to interrupt support for its military allies and the new political power structure. Secretary of State John Kerry could only confirm what serious analysts already knew when he stated a few days later that on June 30 the army had “restored the democratic process.” There can be no doubt that the US government fully supports the Egyptian armed forces. Its regional allies quickly swung into action: billions of dollars poured in from Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait.

Covering tracks is the strategy of choice. Domestically, the propaganda machine is in high gear: the United States had been meddling in Egyptian affairs by supporting the Muslim Brotherhood (MB). The new political authorities (the interim president, prime minister and, of course, el-Baradei) are playing their parts to perfection: they claim to be “disappointed” by the lack of American backing. In the Washington Post and not in an Egyptian newspaper, General al-Sisi even—astonishingly—accused the US government of abandoning him: “You turned your back on the Egyptians, and they won’t forget that.” (2)Washington Post, August 3, 2013 It was a clever gambit, one that managed to fool a section of the Egyptian population. That would make the armed forces and the civilian transitional government out to be courageous and independent patriots, while American agents and foreign powers had all along propped up the MB. The Americans know well the power of such propaganda, and the symbolic gestures needed to make it convincing. But it was a lie from start to finish.

The facts and figures produced are a bigger lie: 30 million Egyptians took to the streets, they tell us, and 16 million signed an anti-government petition. Where do these figure, intoned like a mantra in the media, come from? By comparing images from the pilgrimage to Mecca with those produced on June 30 (by the Egyptian military, which transmitted them to press agencies around the world: Google claims not to have broadcast them), experts estimate the total turnout at no more than four or five million. In fact, the figure of 30 million is preposterous, as are the 16 million signatures, especially for anyone familiar with social conditions on the ground in Egypt. New propaganda; new lies.