A military dictatorship in Egypt behind the facade of an “elected” president.
If it proves stable enough to protect the interests of the U.S.-backed oligarchy in the region, then it will receive the blessings of the White House and Congress. It will also get the $1.3 billion in annual military aid that had been partially suspended since last July’s bloody military coup that overthrew the elected government of Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood.
That is the scenario for what is now going on between the Egyptian generals and the U.S. government.
Gen. Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, leader of the coup, has announced he will run for president. The only organized political force that could challenge him — the Brotherhood — is in chains. After the coup, thousands of Morsi’s followers were shot down in the streets by the military and police when they organized peaceful protests calling for his return.
The military made its move during large demonstrations against Morsi’s government that reflected contradictory elements within Egyptian society, many of whom wanted a democratic secular government and unfortunately believed the military was on their side.
One of the junta’s first acts was to designate the Brotherhood a “terrorist organization.” All the leaders of the Brotherhood are now in prison, including Morsi. In their rare appearances before a court, they have been locked inside a soundproof cage.
Some 529 members and supporters of the Brotherhood were sentenced to death on March 24 after a two-hour trial in which there was no defense and no jury. They were all charged with killing one police officer. This is the climate in which Sisi will run for president in what the junta is calling “democratic elections.”
There is increasing evidence that many of those who opposed Morsi are now rejecting the generals, too. Poverty has deepened among the masses and strikes are on the rise, even as the military brass fatten themselves off many of the juiciest businesses.
The main concern in Washington is how to spin this to an already skeptical public.
For decades, U.S. imperialism supported the dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak, another military commander who got himself elected president but became hated by the masses for the corruption and repression of his regime. When huge demonstrations in Cairo’s Tahrir Square toppled Mubarak in January 2011, Washington did a balancing act. It sounded sympathetic to the “Arab Spring” while continuing to arm the generals.
In July 2013, the military, headed by Sisi, overthrew the elected Morsi government and began shooting down demonstrators. Washington wouldn’t call it a coup but in October did announce the suspension of some U.S. military aid.
The very next month, Secretary of State John Kerry was in Cairo meeting with Sisi and giving him a green light. “Kerry sought to balance the long-term U.S. commitment to Egypt with what he described as temporary concerns about human and civil rights and the promised return to full civilian rule under an elected government. ‘Our hope is that we can make the progress’ needed to restore all elements of a $1.3 billion annual military assistance program, ‘and then we will march together hand in hand into the future with Egypt,’ Kerry said at a news conference with interim Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy.” (Washington Post, Nov. 3)
So Sisi, like Mubarak before him, will be “elected” to head a “civilian” government. As in Venezuela and Ukraine, free elections and human rights go out the window when the imperialists feel their profit interests are threatened. And the $1.3 billion in military aid to Egypt will go right back into the pockets of U.S. war profiteers like Lockheed Martin.
All this is a bitter lesson on the need for the working class and all the oppressed to organize independently of the capitalist class and its repressive state if there is to be true liberation.