Recently, news broke that the new military regime in Egypt has declared a state of emergency after killing some 525 (Independent sources)-2,000 (Muslim Brotherhood’s number) peaceful protesters who were rallying in support of the deposed President, Mohamed Morsi. Before we get to the implications of this massacre, it’s important we have a brief background of ex-President Morsi’s rule from 2011-2013.
Morsi’s Imperfect Presidency
Though Morsi was part of the Muslim Brotherhood, his Presidency wasn’t characterized by Islamist policies. His administration co-opted with the military, who still held significant power in Egypt. This 12 year-old explains most of his faults in under 3 minutes. He continued his predecessor’s, Hosni Mubarak’s, friendly attitude toward Israeli crimes in Palestine. Unsurprisingly, large numbers of Egyptians came out to protest his reign. The military saw a chance to regain full control of Egypt after they had lost it for the first time in 40 years, finally doing so via a coup. The responses to this coup reveal the nature of what may seem like a people’s revolution.
Telling Responses From Inside and Outside of Egypt
Inside Egypt, Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate who was supposed to be the Vice-President of the interim government, resigned to protest the recent massacre. As the Australian reports, this “exits ends the pretence” that Egypt’s government “is anything but a full-blown military regime.”
Immediately outside Egypt, in the Middle East, the new government easily found new friends with an atrocious track record, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The two dictatorships, notorious human rights violators, extended $8 billion in aid along with diplomatic support.
Meanwhile, the USA has condemned the killing but refused to label the takeover a military coup, which would’ve automatically suspended the $1.5 billion we give in military aid to Egypt. The rationale: Hey, we have to suspend aid if a coup happens, but we’re not legally obliged to determine whether a coup’s occurred or not. How clever. It’s no wonder BBC came out with a headline, “US credibility in tatters over Egypt crisis.”
Why “Credibility” Doesn’t Matter to the USA in Regard to Egypt
This kind of response from our government is morally obscene; in essence we’re giving billions of our taxpayer dollars to a military regime so they can continue to kill their people. But it’s important we look at the reasons for such a apathetic approach to the crisis in Egypt.
First and foremost, this aid feeds the military-industrial complex, what I’ve labeled a “Rigged Institution.” In other words, when we give Egypt money to buy weapons, it makes a lot of money for military contractors like Lockheed Martin, who have a deathgrip on our government. The industry spends over $100 million each year lobbying Congress.
Second, it’s in elite American interests to keep the Egyptian military in power. The key word there is “elite.” Last time they ruled Egypt under Mubarak, they became a key ally to Israel, and thus, to the USA. Remember, Israel is the largest recipient of US military aid. Not only does Egypt export oil and natural gas to the US (its largest trading partner), it has control over the Suez Canal, a strategically vital area for American economic and military interests. This isn’t from some conspiracy theorist, but from the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt itself, a powerful business lobby.
U.S. Policy Toward Egypt in a Larger Context
America has never been quite supportive of democracy in the Middle East. History bears out this fact repeatedly. Our foreign policy isn’t run in the interests of the people of the Middle East, or even in the interests of the American people, who have their taxpayer dollars wasted on foreign aid. It’s run for elite American interests, and unfortunately, that doesn’t seem likely to change soon.