What was President Obama thinking? Last week's trip to Egypt by the neoconservative dynamic duo, Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, seemed like an improbably bad idea from the start. In the highly delicate situation inside Egypt, where the military is expected at any moment to initiate another bloody crackdown against supporters of the ousted president, Mohamed Morsi, Graham and McCain would not be most people's choice to smooth tensions.
Nevertheless it was reported that they traveled at the request of the US President in attempt to diffuse the increasing anti-American sentiment in all sectors of the Egyptian political universe. Indeed, the one position unifying nearly all political factions in Egypt is a deep disgust with the current US administration. Perhaps it is that commonality that the two senators hoped to build on. If that was the case, they certainly did not dissapoint.
The strangeness began immediately, as these envoys of the president proceeded to contradict Obama and his State Department's position on Egypt.
According to US law, financial aid to Egypt must cease should the country undergo a military coup. Avoiding that term has led the administration to savagely torture the English language. It was no coup, the Egyptian military was actually "restoring democracy" by overthrowing an elected president, said Secretary of State John Kerry.
State Department spokesman Jen Psaki explained how the administration decided to avoid making a determination of what is obvious to everyone: “we have determined that we do not have to make a determination” as to whether or not a coup took place in Egypt, she said last week. It is an imperial voice.
Nevertheless, speaking in Cairo on Tuesday, McCain utterred the "C" word: "[T]he circumstances of (Morsy's) removal was a coup," he said.
Then later in the day, the Egyptian Cabinet responded by Tweet (in Twitter language) that: "McCain remarks from inside the Egy territory to the W.Post insults the Egy sovereignty.we consider him persona non grata.an unwelcome person."
McCain and Graham further alienated the Obama Administration from the current ruling regime by demanding that they begin to release from prison the members of the Muslim Brotherhood who had been detained as the Muslim Brotherhood-led government was overthrown by military action.
Lest the two be accused of traveling to Egypt to side with the ousted Morsi government, the senators also identified with those who overthrew the Morsi government. Senator McCain said in Cairo that, "[W]e share the democratic aspirations and criticism of the Morsi government that led millions of Egyptians into the streets.” In other words, it was a coup, the winners are behaving badly, but we support it anyway because its genesis was people in the street."
The US Administration then proceeded to publicly dissociate itself from the statements made by the President's own envoys to Egypt, with Psaki stating,
"Senators McCain and Graham are certainty entitled to their opinions, just as any member of Congress is…the US government has stated what our opinion is.”
No wonder the Egyptians are confused.
Upon their return, the two senators penned an op-ed in the Washington Post in which they systematically identified themselves with each and every coup in Egypt since the "Arab Spring":
We are longtime friends of Egypt and its armed forces. We have fought as hard as anyone over many years to maintain our vital foreign assistance to Egypt.Translation: We were pro-Mubarak and supported his repressive regime.
We were early supporters of the 2011 revolution and have consistently spoken up for the democratic aspirations of the Egyptian people.Translation: We then supported those who, trained by the US, undertook to overthrow Mubarak.
We were among the strongest critics of former president Mohamed Morsi’s undemocratic actions, and we sympathized with the millions of Egyptians who took to the streets last month to protest Morsi’s abuses of power.Translation: Then we supported those who undertook to overthrow the democratically-elected president who succeeded Mubarak, whose political orientation was very different from the US-supported Egyptian youth protestors in the "Arab Spring."
But as we said again this week in Cairo, we find it difficult to describe the circumstances of Morsi’s removal from office as anything other than a coup.Translation: But now we are supporting those who seek to undermine those we recently supported who came to power in a coup that we also supported.
And the main goal of the senators' trip to Egypt and subsequent op-ed in the Washington Post? To promote democracy and stability!
Our main message in Cairo was simple and straightforward: Democracy is the only viable path to lasting stability, national reconciliation, sustainable economic growth and the return of investment and tourism in Egypt.No wonder Egyptians of all political stripes are united in their annoyance with the US foreign policy establishment! Promoting stability by promoting destabilization.
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