White House/State Dept. Continue to Refuse to Condemn Egyptian Military


The violence is escalating in Tahrir Square with the military and security forces cracking down on protesters, with upwards of 35 killed. As usual when dealing with an intransigent, human rights-abusing ally, the administration has just called for “restraint on all sides” which is code for “we don’t want to denounce the disproportionate force used by our friends in the military junta.” To call for restraint on all sides creates a false equivalency between the unarmed protesters and the heavily armed, powerful military forces. Yes, at this point some protesters are fighting back, which we don’t seem to mind so long as we don’t like who they are protesting against (protesters at Occupy Wall Street certainly cannot fight back against police brutality, nor can Palestinians defend themselves against rubber or live bullets or tear gas). Does the US call for restraint when addressing violence in Syria? No. Iran? No. Libya? No- in fact we were willing to arm those protesters. So I guess there are special rules for when nonviolent protesters can defend themselves against state-sponsored brutality.

From a commentary over at HuffPo:

The latest Egyptian protests were sparked by growing anger over signs that the military leadership plans to hold on to power indefinitely. The military rulers say they will relinquish power once presidential elections are held, but have refused to commit to a plan and a timetable for handing over power to a democratically elected government.

[snip]

Now that the façade of a democratic transition has been ripped away and Egyptians are once again battling the military government in Tahrir Square for the future of their country, with at least 35 civilians killed since Saturday. The Obama administration remains as quiet as it was in the early days of the revolution. Such silence is both morally indefensible and politically and strategically disastrous for the United States.

The United States, with $1.3 billion in military aid to Egypt every year, supplies a large part of the Egyptian military budget. But it refuses to use its considerable leverage. During Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s visit to Egypt in October, he actually praised the Egyptian military . “I really do have full confidence in the process that the Egyptian military is overseeing,” he said, “I think they’re making good progress.”

On Monday, November 21, White House spokesman Jay Carney only mustered up the courage to call for restraint from “all sides” — as if the pro-democracy activists were somehow equally responsible for the violence. When asked if the generals should specify the date for a presidential election, Carney replied, “I don’t want to dictate specifics to Egypt.”

As during the Mubarak era, the administration appears to believe that U.S. interests, including Egypt’s peace accord with Israel, are more important than the lives of the Egyptian people.

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About Stacy

Attorney, Publisher, Foreign Policy wonk

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2 Comments on “White House/State Dept. Continue to Refuse to Condemn Egyptian Military”

  1. Carolyn-Rodham Says:

    stacy, is this a case of Israel dictating our foreign policy (and using its considerable leverage in an election year)? I mean, how does this inaction support our own interests? It makes no sense to me that, albeit belatedly, the US supported the regime change in Egypt only to stand by now as Egyptian citizens are once again being slaughtered for civil protests? I haven’t heard Hillary say one word about this – I can only think she is being muzzled by the White House.

    Reply

    • Stacy Says:

      I don’t know if Israel is urging the admin. to remain quiet on this but I think we clearly want the Egyptian military regime to stay in power behind the scenes even after any elections that take place- and that is due largely to our belief that in return for our large financial/military aid package and willingness to turn a blind eye to their abuses, they will maintain the Israel-Egypt peace treaty and not insist on the Gaza blockade being lifted, etc. And of course, they probably continue to torture terrorism suspects for us.

      This is why Bibi chastised the Obama admin. in February for eventually throwing Mubarak under the bus- Bibi knows a democratic Egypt will not put up with Israel’s bullshit for long. Look at the disputes over the Egyptian gas pipeline which provides energy to Israel at a ridiculously reduced cost- Egyptians are angry that Mubarak and the military were not charging at least market price to Israel and the US and Israel know if the military can’t retain significant power, Israel’s free ride is over. The Egyptian people also support Hamas-Fatah unity which surely pisses off the US and Israel.

      The Egyptian military won’t give up power easily and I really don’t think they will loosen their control of the society, which could lead to some sort of internal uprising. That will put the US in a tricky position.

      But hey,what goes around, comes around. The has been propping up these dictators for decades as a buffer for Israel and to help control the flow of oil. Now it’s payback time. I really can’t blame the Arab street for being pissed off.

      Reply

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