Monday July 8, 2013
Looking at the banners in the massive Egyptian protests last week, we saw many anti-American slogans. Likewise, the Muslim Brotherhood-led government that was deposed by the military last week was very critical of what it saw as US support for the coup. Why is it that all sides in this Egyptian civil war seem so angry with the United States? Because the United States has at one point or another supported each side, which means also that at some point the US has also opposed each side. It is the constant meddling in Egyptian affairs that has turned Egyptians against us, as we would resent foreign intervention in our own affairs.
For more than 30 years, since the US-brokered Camp David Accord between Israel and Egypt, the US supported Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak. Over that period the US sent more than $60 billion to prop up Mubarak and, importantly, to train and seek control over the Egyptian military. Those who opposed Mubarak’s unelected reign became more and more resentful of the US, which they rightly saw as aiding and abetting a dictator and denying them their political aspirations.
From massive NSA spying, to IRS targeting of the administration's political opponents, to collection and sharing of our health care information as part of Obamacare, it seems every day we learn of another assault on our privacy. Sadly, this week the Senate took another significant, if little-noticed, step toward creating an authoritarian surveillance state. Buried in the immigration bill is a national identification system called mandatory E-Verify.
The Senate did not spend much time discussing E-Verify, and what little discussion took place was mostly bipartisan praise for its effectiveness as a tool for preventing illegal immigrants from obtaining employment. It is a tragedy that mandatory E-Verify is not receiving more attention, as it will impact nearly every American’s privacy and liberty.
The Egypt experiment is falling apart. The crisis point may be reached as early as tomorrow, June 30th, when massive demonstrations are expected to rock the rule of Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi. It has been a slow-motion disintegration from the begining, however.
US-backed liberal Egyptians took to Tahrir Square in 2011, trained by the State Department to mobilize masses through social media to overthrow Mubarak rule. Their success resulted in their being shunted aside in favor of the real power in Egypt, post-Mubarak: the Muslim Brotherhood and the military.
Since then, contrary to US government predictions, democracy and freedom has not broken out bringing with it economic prosperity and social harmony. History teaches us that revolutions are not as simplistic and binary (bad out, good in) as their supporters would like us to believe. The Egyptian economy, dependent on tourism, has been in free-fall since the unrest, leading to deep layers of resentment in those who were told that overthrowing Mubarak would bring economic growth.
It is now clear that the preliminary meeting at Geneva this week of Russia, the United States and the United Nations for setting a date for the Geneva-2 conference on Syria ended inconclusively. The meeting couldn’t agree when the Geneva-2 should be held or who would be invited. A UN statement said that Russian Foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and his US counterpart John Kerry will meet next week and further talks are expected to follow.
The United Nations special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi who chaired the meeting urged the US and Russia to "contain this situation that is getting out of hand, not only in Syria but also in the region". But he ruled out the possibility of holding the Geneva – 2 in July. Other diplomatic sources have doubted if the conference could be held "earlier than August or September".
The sticking point is apparently the failure to agree on potential participants at the conference. However, that is only an alibi – although, it is partly true to the extent that there is no unified Syrian opposition despite the robust efforts by the US and its allies to cobble together one and Russia is insisting on Iran’s participation.