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Dramatically, the political debate in Egypt has not developed beyond where it was in the 1920s. The gap between the MB and the secularists, and the hate and intransigeance on both sides, is a constant. Mubarak tacitly tolerated the MB on condition that they stayed out of politics; they were allowed to take on a social role, organising charity and funnelling oil money to the needy. A huge strategic mistake, no doubt.

I am left to wonder as to the extent to which this course of action was urged upon Mubarak by the USA. A much wiser course of action would have been to provide at least half of the aid for the purpose of government backed aid and education programs for the poor. But the relevant considerations undoubtedly were patronage, not the national interests of either Egypt or the USA.

One thing seems obvious to me. No reconciliation is possible until Muslim Brotherhood triumphalism is dispelled. It was in full bloom right up to the night Morsi was overthrown. Now triumphalism has turned to defiance. I don't see how it can end well either. But canceling joint maneuvers could be a favor to the Egyptian regime at this point, both from reducing the association of the Egyptian military with the USA and from freeing them to deal with domestic unrest.  

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Aug 18th, 2013 at 02:15:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am left to wonder as to the extent to which this course of action was urged upon Mubarak by the USA.

I'm assuming that the US had no strong interest in domestic Egyptian policy. US aid was a straightforward bribe to bring military security to Israel; and the US made a deal with the partner in front of them, and Mubarak was a product of the armed forces. So they are extraordinarily well-funded, by the US, and any economic development that happens with US funds is strictly under the aegis of the Egyptian armed forces.

The rent-extracting classes of Egypt were OK with this. In order to prevent a social explosion in the under-classes, the MB were a handy way to keep the lid on.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Sun Aug 18th, 2013 at 04:50:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm assuming that the US had no strong interest in domestic Egyptian policy. US aid was a straightforward bribe to bring military security to Israel; and the US made a deal with the partner in front of them, and Mubarak was a product of the armed forces. So they are extraordinarily well-funded, by the US, and any economic development that happens with US funds is strictly under the aegis of the Egyptian armed forces.

That's a plausible story, so long as it is kept in mind that while the US probably did not actively decide to fund the Brotherhood, they did have a veto over the sort of opposition which could be tolerated. And the US has a long history of preferring conservative fundamentalists to secular, liberal democrats.

So it is possible to tell another story, in which the US foreclosed on the possibility of an urban, secular opposition, which implicitly amounts to support for the Brotherhood.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Aug 18th, 2013 at 06:15:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Urban, secular opposition has historically been pretty easy to co-opt (in just about any place and time). Don't underestimate the huge credit ordinary Egyptians accord to the military.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Sun Aug 18th, 2013 at 06:19:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You know that and I know that, and the Egyptians will know that in short order if they don't already. But the Americans still seem to favor rural fundies when it comes to deciding which oppositional groups to tolerate.

American foreign policy doesn't have to make rational sense. That's one of the privileges that sufficient warship tonnage buys you. So the reality of things matters a lot less than what the American conventional wisdom believes to be the reality of things.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Aug 18th, 2013 at 06:29:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, the rent extracting classes of Egypt are natural targets of Wall Street, so add Wall Street to the MIC for the major concerns of the US Government about where the Egyptian aid goes. Only in a dream world does that money get used to actually help provide secular educations for poor Egyptian children. Egypt is not Mexico.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Aug 19th, 2013 at 12:36:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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