Egypt: Why is the West silent about the military coup?

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Baku, 2 August 2013 –

In Egypt military ousted the government represented by the "Muslim Brotherhood” that came to power in the wake of democratic elections in the country. The head of state and "Muslim Brotherhood” leader Mohamed Mursi was deposed and placed under arrest. State television was taken over by the military, mass arrests were initiated among the "Muslim Brotherhood” affiliated "Ikhvan” movement activists, and they continue as we speak. According to recent estimates, some 300-500 people were arrested on political grounds. Television channels and newspapers sympathizing with "Ikhvan” were shut down. Few media outlets operating in the country are attempting to justify the coup and defame the Mursi government.

Preceding the ouster, various opposition political parties had converged on Cairo’s "Tahrir” square, holding non-stop rallies and demanding Mursi’s resignation. Majority of the protesters are presumed revanchists as they happened to be the social group that was deprived of the privileges and financial resources provided by the previous regime of Hosni Mubarak. Seizing this opportunity, they seek to maintain their positions otherwise jeopardized by the new government. Another chunk of the protest movement is composed of liberals and secularists that believe to have played a crucial role in the toppling of Mubarak. They accuse Mursi’s government that came to power on the waves of the "Arab Spring”, of betraying the spirit of the movement and suppressing liberal-democratic values. Egypt’s minority community of the Christian Copts is the backbone of the liberal-secularists. Although their post-Mubarak election performance was less successful, compared to "Muslim Brotherhood”, they remain to be a significant political power that never abandoned their aspirations to come to power.

Dilapidated economy, unemployment, greed of the state-endorsed investors, entrenched corruption, chronic failure to address problems within the law enforcement field and others are the grievances the opposition believes the new government has to be held accountable for.

One of the motives of the accusations stems from the policy of capitulation with respect to the U.S. and Israel conducted by Egypt for many years. Allegations against the Mursi government emanate from the problems accumulated during the rule of the previous regimes. Opposition’s claims of the failure of the new government to tackle the problems of the chronic nature in just one year in office are detached from reality, to say the least. Indeed, the opposition was acutely aware of the inconceivability of resolving the problems in such a short time span and, therefore, it was pushing the government into a stalemate.

So, how the military deposing of the political force that won the hearts of the 50% of Egyptians was possible? The issue is that strategic line of the "Muslim Brotherhood” ideology ran counter to the prosperous lives enjoyed by the Egypt’s military generals. Thus, from the very outset irreconcilable opposition to the Mursi remained in the highest military ranks. Generals yearned for the opportunity to replace the incumbent government with the one more compatible to their interests. In a fear of loss of privileges, police and judicial establishments, remnants of the Mubarak regime, also nurtured animosity towards Mursi.

Finally, serving as a propaganda machine for the previous regime, media too, eyed an opportunity to besmirch the new government. Grassroots and mid-level bureaucrats still clinging to their public positions did their best to sabotage the situation – long lines on petrol stations, power outages and water and natural gas supply failures were the vivid examples of that. Amazingly, problems were gone immediately after the coup.

Another intriguing aspect in the sequence of events in Egypt was the reaction of the Western quarters, media outlets and some prominent international organizations to the developments in the country. Some impartial analysts and media representatives that aim to uphold the objectivity emphasize that belated and reluctant statements by the Western countries and representatives of the UN and the European Union appeared somewhat bleak in light of the magnitude of the events. Made for the sake of statements, they were calculated to disguise the fact of the military coup. It is not accidental that the letter of the handful of statements by the Western quarters fails to recognize the event as a "military coup”.

Historical irony of today is that the democratic values conceived by the very West are upheld by the belittled Orient – Turkey and the African Union that vehemently opposed and condemned antidemocratic coup in Egypt. Instead of genuinely condemning the fact of the military toppling of the constitutional government in the country, the West issues advises and urges Egyptians to cooperate with the military-backed interim government. Apparently, they forget that Egypt happens to be the cradle of one of the ancient cultures. Therefore, Egyptians deserve the right to lecture rather than be forced to listen to others.

Adherent to their style, leading media outlets employed double standards in the coverage of the events in Egypt, pretty much similar to "Gezi Park” events in Turkey. Leading television channels (especially CNN) provided extensive coverage of the mass opposition rallies on "Tahrir” square. However, those channels failed to demonstrate sensitivity to the post-coup developments. Global and local media outlets turned a blind eye on the ongoing rallies by the Mursi supporters, who in their millions, converged on Cairo’s "Adaweya” square and elsewhere in the city to protest against the military coup.

The only conclusion to be made is that the West is interested in the successful realization of the military coup in Egypt. Let us examine the motives that conditioned the interest. First has to do with the cultural-ideological aspects and the mindset of the West for the past several centuries. In the core of this mindset lays the secularism, tempered through the struggle and eventual victory over Christianity in the Medieval Ages. This principle that has permeated the subconscious of the Westerners plays not the least role in opposition of the West and especially its vanguard the U.S. to the religious-Islamic regimes in modern times.

And, since the "Muslim Brotherhood” chose the Islamic way, bearers of this ideology coming to power in Egypt could not have gone well with the Western politicians. On the other hand, regardless of pressure and constraints Islam remains to be the inexhaustible source of power. The West, deprived of comparable moral potential long before, deploys its financial-technical capacity to confront Islam, but it is insufficient to neutralize it.

Another motive for the West’s covert backing of the military coup is linked to its specific interest in the Middle East. Analysis of the U.S.’s policy pursued with respect to Egypt since Jamal Abdul Nasser indicates that perseverance of any government with less than loyal attitude to Israel becomes questionable.

Middle East is a region that bears strategic significance for the Western countries and the U.S., with Israel as an outpost conceived to meet their demands. Conciliatory policy conducted by Anwar Sadat and Mubarak has always been targeted by the "Muslin Brotherhood”, although as Mohammad Mursi came to power the political conjuncture had constrained the emphasis on the issue. Nevertheless, both Israel and the U.S. realized that perseverance of this government will inevitably lead to significant alterations in Egypt’s Israel related policy conducted by the previous regime.

P.S. After this article was completed we were shocked by the tragic news. A massacre was committed in Cairo’s "Adaweya” square that was home to nearly one million Mursi supporters. The protesters, who chose to conduct peaceful and civilized rallies despite violent attempts to provoke confrontation, came under fire from snipers and criminal gangs backed by the military junta. 200 people were murdered and some 5000 sustained various injuries. Reaction of prominent international organizations and leading countries was even faint-hearted than before: the massacre was hardly unequivocally and resolutely condemned while the criminal regime enjoyed impunity. On the contrary, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton paid a visit to Cairo in the wake of a massacre and delivered a notable thesis justifying the military coup: "Mursi’s government failed to meet the demands of the people”.

Dr. Zakir Mammadaliyev

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