Sunday, February 05, 2012

The New Egypt - 19 Americans To Be Tried Over NGO Work

The Egyptian junta has said they're going to put 43 workers for Nongovernmental Organizations (NGO's) on trial including 19 Americans for 'illegal activities' and ' illegally receiving foreign funds.' One of them is Sam LaHood, the son of Arab-American Obama Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. A travel ban has been imposed and their passports collected to keep them from leaving.

Translated, what this means is the NGO workers were doing what the workers would undoubtedly refer to as working for democracy, and what the regime sees as assisting the regime's political enemies and fomenting unrest in an already explosive situation.

This back and forth between Cairo and Washington has been going on since the Mubarak regime.

The regime is saying that the protests against the military junta have been fueled by these NGO's and that the protesters have been receiving foreign funds from them to destabilize the country. Whether that's true or not ( and it might be at some level), it makes a good story line for the regime to give a lot of Egyptians who are frightened at the increased unrest.

Frankly, as far as I'm concerned the US has already interfered with Egypt's politics quite enough by having our president assist the Muslim Brotherhood in becoming the country's new overlords.

Secretary of State Clinton has warned the junta that US aid to Egypt - $1.3 billion in military assistance and $250 million in economic aid - is in jeopardy if what she describes as a 'dispute' isn't resolved.

Considering that the US and Europe want the Suez Canal to continue as a portal for the shipping of Persian Gulf Oil, I'm not sure whether that's a credible threat,but the Egyptians need the aid and will likely end this by either bringing the NGO workers to trial, convicting them and then kicking them out of the country or by simply doing it outright without going through the motions of a court procedure.

In spite of all the flowery rhetoric about the 'Arab Spring', the reality is that growing democracy in an Arab country like Egypt has about the same chance of success as those famous scenes in Easy Rider where the hippies in the commune were trying to grow crops in the desert sand.


louielouie said...

this could give hussein a platform to be a real tough guy, oh i forgot, he only does that with people who believe in a constitutional republic that used to be called the united states of america.
maybe he could go to cairo and give another speech?
what are the odds this turns into a carter/iran redux?

Rob said...

Carter/Iran redux..nah I doubt it.

But is Egypt the next Iran? I said that a long time ago, back when this is all started.


B.Poster said...

We've either interfered to much in Egpyt's affairs or we did not interfere in the right ways. First of all Mubarak was gone the moment the military decided not to preserve the regime. There was nothing the US could have done to change the fate of his government even if the US actually wanted to.

While the US did offer some assistance to the MB, even if the US stays out of the situation entirely the MB is going to come to be in charge of Egypt any way. Nothing the US could have done to prevent this.

Where the US government seems to have gone wrong is by offering support to the MB at certain key points which meant the MB was able to come to power quicker than it likely would have had the US simply stayed out of it. In the interim, other groups would have had time and space to organize that, while the MB was going to be the dominant force, other forces could have and likely would have acted as a check on them.

Essentially we had two options. 1.)Identify groups in Egypt who would be most compatible to our interests such as keeping the Suez Canal open and give them material support and hopefully assist them in coming to power. 2.)Stay out of the situatio entirely, wait and see what develops, and then chart our foreign policy accordingly.

Option 1 might be optimal but frankly US intellegence services do not have the competence to implement such a policy. Also, given the anti-American sentiment in the region no one really wants to assis the US and they especially are not going to want to take a chance on getting caught doing it. As such, option 1 is likely a no go, as in the ability to implement is lacking.

As such, option 2 is really the only one that is viable. What likely happens is the MB comes to power but they are weakened in the rise to power and other groups within Egpyt are likely able to act as a check on them. Of course perhaps not. Maybe they rise to power just as quickly even without American assistance.

Mrs. Clinton's threats are likely not credible. Egypt likely has other options for the aid from America. Essentially America needs the Suez Canal kept open far more than Egypt needs Aemrican aid, however, there might be a chance to use the aid to our advantage.

As a net food exporter, America might be able to withhold food shipments from Egpyt if they don't cooperate with us in a constructive manner. Of course to try something like this would lead to even more rampant anti-Americanism. We'd be accused of trying to starve Arabs, hurt Arabs, or something like that.

The American and world media would gleefully eat such accusations against America up and run with them. Essentaily if we are going to win this thing we simply must make a more conderted effort to change the narrative surrounding this conflict.

Rob said...

The military made their decision to stand aside only after OUR president called for Mubarak to step down in favor of his Muslim Brotherhood pals.

B.Poster said...

They did not have to listen to our president. They could have told our president to pound sand or something to that effect. That's what foreign leaders usually do. Once the military their decision it was over for Mubarak. The situation is a bit more complicated than our president telling the Eqyptians to do something.

For our president to call for the ouster of Mubarak, after he was essentially already, in substance, out the door is essentially like calling for hot and dry conditions in the Sahara desert or calling for cold weather at the South Pole. This is already going to be the situation. Mr. Obama jumped on that bandwagon, so to speak, once Mubarak's fate was already sealed. Nothing we could have done to preserve the Mubarak regime even if we wanted to.

If we could have, should we have done so. After all he did provide us assistance with the representation of our interests. The assistance he provided was likely much greater than we could ever expect from the MB. Even if we could, I say "no." Mubarak and his government would have eventually turned on us any way once they had decided they had blackmailed us for every thing they could.

Calling for Mr. Mubarak's ouster after it was essentially over was simply in keeping in line with the facts on the ground and it gets a good plug in with the media who enthusiastically supported the fall of Mubarak. It was also probably hoped that by "making nice" with the new leadership we might get favorable treatment. As such, call for the old leader's ouster and look tough for your friends in the media. The MB was likely laughing hysterically though.

Given that Mubarak could not be saved, the best approach as mentioned above is likely to have stayed out of this entirely, wait and see what develops, and then chart policy toward Egypt accordingly. Instead by intervening in the manner we did we've likely made things worse.

The media enthusiastically supported Mubarak's ouster. The media is dead sent against any kind of military intervention in Iran, Syria, and were generally against American military involvement in Libya. See a pattern here? The media delights in seeing American allies or nominal American allies toppled but will do any thing it can to support America's enemies.

Whose funding and organizing protests in Syria? Russia will get involved militarily in the affairs of Syria, if necessary, to save Assad's government. It would be helpful to know at what point Russia is going to get involved and how this might impact us. Also, it'd be helpful to know whose funding and organizing the rebellion in Syria. The media is not asking these things and the American intellgence community is grossly incompetent. Not a good situation.

Sara Noble said...

No surprises here. They keep captive innocent people trying to spread democracy, several of whom are American, while we give them 1.3 bn in aide.

Democracy never had a chance and it is Obama and Hillary's Arab Spring. In Egypt, we pushed out an American-friendly dictator for an American-hating religious fascist government.

Duke C said...

NGO=Non Government Organizations. code words for Progresive Party Agitators. Young LaHood got caught subverting a foreign government and now faces 7 years in prison. The MSM press is careful not to use the H word: HOSTAGE, no america doesn't want a replay of the '79-'80 Iranian Hostage Crisis, which cost J. Carter the presidency. The press has been careful to use the words "detained, arrested, held" but not Hostage. Little LaHood kicked the shins of the Military Junta, and they aren't like kicking a Chicago banker in the shins.