July 6, 2013

The real story behind the military coup in Cairo led by General al-Sissi is much more complex than the western media is reporting. Far from a spontaneous uprising by Egyptians, – aka “a people’s revolution” – what really happened was a putsch orchestrated by Egypt’s “deep government” and outside powers – the latest phase of the counter-revolution against the so-called Arab Spring.

A year ago, Egyptians elected Mohammed Morsi president in their first fair democratic election. Morsi came from the ranks of the Muslim Brotherhood, an eight-decade old conservative movement of professionals dedicated to bringing Islamic principals of public welfare, politics, education, justice, piety and fighting corruption.

But the deck was stacked against Morsi and the Brotherhood from day one. The brutal US-backed Mubarak had fallen, but the organs of his 30-year dictatorship, Egypt’s pampered 440,000-man military, judiciary, academia, media, police, intelligence services and bureaucrats, remained in place. Even Morsi’s presidential guard remained under control of the Mubarak forces.

The dictatorship’s old guard – better known as the “deep government” – sought to thwart every move of the Brotherhood. In fact, the stolid, plodding Morsi only became president after more capable colleagues were vetoed by the hard-line Mubarakist courts.

Morsi should have purged the “deep government,” notably the police, secret police, judges, and media who were sabotaging the democratic government. But Morsi was too soft, and the entrenched powers arrayed against him too strong. He never managed to grasp the levers of state. Ironically, after all the media hysteria in North America over the alleged dangers of the Muslim Brotherhood, it turned out to be a dud.

The Brotherhood stumbled from one crisis to the next as
Egypt’s economy, already in terrible shape before the 2011 revolution, sank like a rock. Tourism, that provided 17% of national income, evaporated. Unemployment soared over 13%, and over 50% among angry urban young. We have recently seen this same phenomena in Turkey, Tunisia, Algeria, Pakistan, and Western Europe. Severe shortages of fuel and electricity sparked outrage.

Egypt’s curse is that it cannot feed its surging population of over 90 million. So Cairo imports huge quantities of wheat and subsidizes retail prices for bread. The US sustained the Sadat and Mubarak regimes with boatloads of wheat discounted 50%. This vital aid tapered off when Morsi took power. Food prices in Egypt rose 10%.

Equally important, ever since Anwar Sadat invited in the US to rearm his outdated military, Egypt’s armed forces have become joined at the hip with the Pentagon. Just as Turkey’s 500,000-man armed forces were, until eleven years ago, and Pakistan’s so remain today.

Armies of many Muslim states are designed to control their populations, not defeat foreign enemies. The only Arab military force in recent memory to beat an invader has been the guerilla forces of Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

The US provides Egypt’s military $1.5 billion annually, not counting tens of millions of “black” payments from CIA to leading generals, police chiefs, commentators and bureaucrats.
Egypt’s military has been totally re-equipped with US F-16 fighter-bombers, M-1 heavy tanks, armored vehicles, radars, electronic systems, and artillery.

Washington has supplied Egypt with just enough arms to control its population and intimidate small neighbors, but not enough to wage war against Israel. Further, the Pentagon sharply limits Egypt supplies of munitions, missiles and vital spare parts. Many of Egypt’s generals have been trained in US military colleges, where they formed close links with US intelligence and the Pentagon. CIA, DIA, and NSA have large stations in Egypt that watch its military and population.

Under Mubarak, the US controlled Egypt’s military and key parts of its economy. When Morsi and the Brotherhood came to power, Washington backed off for a while but in recent months apparently decided to back the overthrow of Egypt’s first democratic government.

This fact became perfectly clear when the White House refused to call the military coup in Cairo a coup. Had it done so, US law would have mandated the cutoff of US aid to Egypt.
US politicians and media, with shameless hypocrisy, are hailing the overthrow of Morsi as a democratic achievement. In North America, anything labeled “Muslim” has become ipso facto menacing.

The counter-revolution of Egypt’s “deep government” was financed and aided by the US and Saudi Arabia, cheered on by Israel, the UAE, Britain and France. Tiny Qatar, that backed Morsi with $8 billion, lost its influence in Cairo. The Saudis will now call many shots in Egypt.

In recent weeks, mass street demonstrations in major Egyptian cities against Morsi were organized by the police, secret police and the Mubarakist structure. Fears of the Brotherhood were whipped up among Egypt’s nervous Coptic Christians, 10% of the population, who form much of the urban elite.

Then there were tens of thousands of unemployed, highly volatile young street people, as we recently saw in Istanbul, ready to explode at any excuse. Large numbers of Egyptians were fed up with stumbles of Morsi’s government – even some of his former Salafist allies. – and the threat of economic collapse. Liberals, Nasserites, Marxists joined them.

There may be some armed resistance against the coup, but it will likely be crushed by Egypt’s military and attack-dog security forces. Senior Brotherhood officials are already being arrested, and pro-Brotherhood media gagged, while Washington turns a blind eye.

As of now, the threat of a real civil war such as Algeria suffered in the 1990’s after a US and French-backed military coup seems unlikely, but not impossible. Meanwhile, the military has installed a puppet president for the time being. The old US “asset” Mohammed el-Baradei may take over as civilian frontman for the generals, who prefer civilian sock puppets get blamed for Egypt’s economic and social crises.

So much for democracy in the Mideast. The overthrow of a moderate Islamist government will send a message to the Muslim world that compromise with the Western powers is impossible and only violent resistance can shake the status quo.

Copyright Eric S. Margolis 2013

This post is in: Egypt, International Politics, Military and Security Affairs, USA


  1. Once again the Middle East learns that you can vote for anyone America wants. The real hypocrisy is how the world always screams about “Islamist” Governments, but totally ignores the fact that the most “Islamist” governments are Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

  2. George Rizk says:

    Dear Eric,

    As an American with Egyptian extraction (I emigrated to the US 45 years ago), I have been monitoring the recent events in Egypt closely. Since I am fluent in Arabic, I have spent many hours watching the Egyptian political talk shows, and the different discussions between the different intellectuals regarding the Morsi administration, and his Muslim Brotherhood gangs.

    Anyway you look at it the Muslim Brotherhood with their intolerance, violence, and secretive maneuvers cannot be called a political party, but rather a terrorist gangs.

    As our media been reporting in the past year of Mr. Morsi’s ill conceived decisions, this Wahabi form of Islam, which Salafi, and Muslim Brotherhood are trying to shove down the throat of Egyptian Muslims is basically a foreign and unacceptable cave man Islam. To start, the Morsi gangs in its first weeks in office decided that tourism brings in Westerners, who like to wear shorts as they visit the pyramids in the desert ( mostly 100 degree Fahrenheit ), and in addition, these bad tourists sometimes order a cold beer? So, as a leader of a poor country, Morsi did not care about the money infused in his country’s economy as much as being a cave dweller narrow view of how human beings must dress, or what they should drink. Such is economic treason!

    The Morsi administration started with reducing the marriage age of girls from 16 to 9? Such disregard to women (50% of the population) was one of the most obvious indication of cave man thinking. Egyptian women, by the millions with hijab were in Tahrir Square chanting “Get Out” to the Morsi gangs. It is very clear to anyone who listen to the demonstrators chanting in Cairo, and Alexandria that the dominant voice heard was women voice. The misogynism of the Muslim Brotherhood/Sal afi/Wahabi Islam is unacceptable for modern educated Egyptian Muslim women.

    Our take on 22 million petition signature, and 30 million screaming Egyptians in every Egyptian city should be a mass illustration of an unfit, and unacceptable presidency that must be impeached and forced out of office before more decline in the Egyptian economy, and decendense into civil war. It is estimated to be the biggest demonstration in the history of the earth, and consequently calling that huge public displeasure with its leadership a MILITARY COUP, is a complete injustice. As 30 million Egyptians were in the streets, their president refused to address his citizens for days, then, as he talked, he talked about blood, jihad, and death! Such reckless usage of tone disregards peace and harmony, and essentially incites violence and civil war in the name of cave man religion that is foreign to real Egyptian Islam. His gangs view us (1% of Egyptians) are Muslims because we grow beards, and fight for Islam, and the rest are godless because they oppose us. To oppose god people is to deserve DEATH.

    To this end, I wish to urge you to refrain from using the term coup, and emphasis rather the cry of the majority for social justice, tolerance, and desire to heel the Egyptian economy.

    As one personae has explained it once on Egyptian TV, if you hire a builder to build you a structure according to certain specifications. He says, it may take four years to finish. So, after one year, you come in to inspect, and you discover that he has not follow your plans, and have instead wasted too much resources, would you Waite four years to fire him?

    If there is any occasion in history where power of the people is a glaring evidence, it is in last week Egypt.

    Thanks for helping the Egyptian people get their voice out.

    A military coup starts with the military to unseat a president, and assumes power. A grassroots revolution by one third of all Egyptians, which gained sympathy from the military, and unseated a mismanaged gang, and replace it with a civilian judge is a great example of citizens sovereignty.


  3. Mike Smith says:

    This is not new. If say Iran had a moderate Arab spring revolution back in 1979, they would have had the Shah back inside a year.
    Morsi tried to walk an impossible line, and did so badly.
    What worries me is the next revolution, this time against the Generals who control most of the industry and money… will be forced to go the Extreme route as Iran was forced in order to survive.
    It seems to me Bin Laden was on to something when he declared war on the US. For any worthwhile political change in the middle east the US government must be removed as a player…
    If only people in the US were able to do something about their foreign policy, but voting in two party elections has zero effect… economic disaster has little effect…

  4. So much for democracy ever being brought to fruition in the Middle East.The US,shame on them,have been advocating that the people in the ME deserve a true democracy.This was especially done while Hillary Clinton was in control.This CLEARLY shows that the US is a hypocrite in the truest meaning of the word.

    They do NOT want this…as this would slowly loosen their grip on the control that they now have on virtually every country over there.To shame!It is a tragedy that Egypt cannot sustain it’s own people with enough food and relying heavily on the US,which has told Egypt, who is in real control over there and who dictates foreign policy.The US has gone from the self proclaimed police of the world to the dominating country that the people have allowed it to turn into because far too many Americans never even bothered to vote when it mattered as long as their fridges were full of beer and pizza delivery was available.How sad this is.

    American foreign policy is actually dictated by the powerful Jewish lobby who practically own America and AIPAC which is the absolute deciding factoring in what America is to do and what role it will play in keeping Israel a heavily armed nuclear power in the ME.The state of Israel has every right to exist and most Israelis were happy having a place to call home but are increasingly becoming alarmed at what their political leaders are allowing Israel to get away with and further expand it’s boundaries through theft of land.

    Unless Israel ever gets a government that is willing to say once and for all….no more expansionism and Zionism gone out of control,then there will never be any peace in the Middle East.And countries like Egypt that have just experienced a coup by the army (at the behest of the US) will never have a democratic government as long as the US is hell bent on world domination and blackmail and bribery.I hope that Obama can sleep at night with his wrongfully awarded Nobel Peace Prize that he received shortly after his first inauguration.What a distasteful joke his administration has been and continues to do so.

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