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IOS Minaret Vol-1, No.1 (March 2007)
Vol. 8    Issue 5   16-31 July 2013


Morsi Spurned Deals, Seeing Military as Tamed


CAIRO — As President Mohamed Morsi huddled in his guard’s quarters during his last hours as Egypt’s first elected leader, he received a call from an Arab foreign minister with a final offer to end a standoff with the country’s top generals, senior advisers with the president said.

The foreign minister said he was acting as an emissary of Washington, the advisers said, and he asked if Mr. Morsi would accept the appointment of a new prime minister and cabinet, one that would take over all legislative powers and replace his chosen provincial governors. The aides said they already knew what Mr. Morsi’s answer would be. He had responded to a similar proposal by pointing at his neck. “This before that,” he had told his aides, repeating a vow to die before accepting what he considered a de facto coup and thus a crippling blow to Egyptian democracy. His top foreign policy adviser, Essam el-Haddad, then left the room to call the United States ambassador, Anne W. Patterson, to say that Mr. Morsi refused. When he returned, he said he had spoken to Susan E. Rice, the national security adviser, and that the military takeover was about to begin, senior aides said.

“Mother just told us that we will stop playing in one hour,” an aide texted an associate, playing on a sarcastic Egyptian expression for the country’s Western patron, “Mother America.” The State Department had no comment Saturday on the details of the American role in Mr. Morsi’s final days. The abrupt end of Egypt’s first Islamist government was the culmination of months of escalating tensions and ultimately futile American efforts to broker a solution that would keep Mr. Morsi in his elected office, at least in name, if not in power.

A new alliance of youthful activists and Mubarak-era elites was driving street protests. A collapsing economy put new pressure on Mr. Morsi and his allies in the Muslim Brotherhood, the once-outlawed Islamist group that had finally come to power after the ouster of the former president, Hosni Mubarak. And an alliance between Mr. Morsi and the nation’s top generals was gradually unraveling. Senior Brotherhood officials said Mr. Morsi’s adamant response to the last proposal — a combination of idealism and stubbornness — epitomized his rule. It may also have doomed his presidency.

As long ago as the fall, he had spoken fatalistically of the possibility of his own ouster, his senior advisers said. “Do you think this is the peak?” he asked a visibly anxious aide during his first major political crisis. “No,” Mr. Morsi said with resignation, “The peak will be when you see my blood flowing on the floor.” That was just after what his advisers and Muslim Brotherhood leaders now acknowledge was the defining blunder of his one-year presidency. After Mubarak-appointed judges dissolved the Islamist-led Parliament, Mr. Morsi in November declared his own authority above the courts until a constitutional convention could finish its work.

Tens of thousands of protesters denounced his tactic as authoritarian, setting off the first major street fighting between his supporters and opponents. Even some of his allies in the Muslim Brotherhood were angered, the group’s leaders and presidential advisers said. They complained that he had not consulted them, but still expected them to defend him in the streets. “If I were not in my place, I would think he wants to be a dictator,” one Muslim Brotherhood leader said when he heard the news on television, a colleague recounted on condition of anonymity.

Mr. Morsi, though, feared he would appear weak if he backed down, his advisers said. “The president is headstrong,” lamented another Brotherhood leader. Through it all, Mr. Morsi never believed the generals would turn on him as long as he respected their autonomy and privileges, his advisers said. He had been the Muslim Brotherhood’s designated envoy for talks with the ruling military council after the ouster of Mr. Mubarak. His counterpart on the council was Gen. Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi.

The Brotherhood was naturally suspicious of the military, its historical opponent, but General Sisi cultivated Mr. Morsi and other leaders, one of them said, including going out of his way to show that he was a pious Muslim. “That is how the relationship between the two of them started,” said a senior Brotherhood official close to Mr. Morsi. “He trusted him.” The two grew so close that Mr. Morsi caught his advisers by surprise when he promoted General Sisi to defense minister last summer as part of a deal that persuaded the military for the first time to let the elected president take full control of his government. Mr. Morsi kept relations with the military as his “personal file,” and worked out the deal without consulting his aides, one adviser said. But the generals’ exit, however, only redoubled the criticism from Mr. Morsi’s opponents that the Islamists were monopolizing power.

Mr. Morsi failed to broaden his appeal among the sectarian opposition, and amid complaints that he and the Brotherhood were monopolizing power. And when the protests took off last fall, General Sisi signaled that his departure from politics might not be so permanent. Without consulting Mr. Morsi, the general publicly invited all the country’s fractious political factions — from social democrats to ultraconservative sheiks — to a meeting to try to come to a compromise on a more inclusive government. Mr. Morsi quashed the idea, advisers said, to avoid drawing the generals back into politics.

General Sisi said publicly last week that he continued to try to broker some compromise with the opposition and to ease the political polarization. It was at that point, Mr. Morsi’s advisers said, that they first suspected General Sisi of intrigue. Mr. Morsi, they said, often pressed the general to stop unnamed military officials from making threatening or disparaging statements toward the president in the news media. General Sisi merely said that “newspapers and media exaggerate,” and that he was “trying to control the tensions toward the president inside the military,” one adviser said.

Yet Mr. Morsi insisted to his aides that he remained fully confident that General Sisi would not interfere, almost until the end of his presidency. He was the last one in the inner circle to acknowledge last week that General Sisi was ousting them.

United States officials had repeatedly urged Mr. Morsi to compromise with the opposition and include it in government. In December, President Obama met with Mr. Haddad, Mr. Morsi’s foreign policy adviser, in the Oval Office to deliver that message, Mr. Morsi’s advisers said. At one point, they said, Mr. Obama offered to intervene with the opposition leaders, either Mohamed ElBaradei, the former United Nations diplomat, or Amr Moussa, a former foreign minister under Mr. Mubarak. But Mr. Morsi declined.

Embassy officials tried to act as intermediaries, Morsi advisers said. They said Secretary of State John Kerry suggested naming Mr. ElBaradei as prime minister. But this year, Ms. Patterson pointedly told Mr. Morsi’s aides that some in Washington were running out of patience with her defense of Egypt’s new Islamist leaders, his advisers said. By June, the economy was sputtering, with gas shortages and blackouts. Young organizers tapped into the growing discontent with a petition drive calling for Mr. Morsi’s removal, and it was set to culminate in a demonstration on the anniversary of his inauguration, June 30.

The first alarms went off in Mr. Morsi’s inner circle on June 21, when General Sisi issued a public statement warning that the growing “split in society” between Mr. Morsi’s supporters and opponents compelled the military “to intervene.” Mr. Morsi was given no warning, his advisers said. But when Mr. Morsi called the general, General Sisi told the president that “it was to satisfy some of his men” and that “it was nothing more than an attempt to absorb their anger,” one of Mr. Morsi’s advisers said. “So even after that first statement, the president didn’t think a coup was imminent.”

The day before the protests, General Sisi called Mr. Morsi to press him for a package of concessions, including a new cabinet. But Mr. Morsi refused, saying he needed to consult first with his Islamist coalition.

When the protests came last Sunday, demonstrators were energized by the general’s suggestions of a possible intervention. Millions poured into the streets. Inside Mr. Morsi’s office. Mr. Morsi’s team checked the official crowd count, sent its own observers, monitored the gathering on Google Earth, and even compared the numbers of mobile phone signals in various public squares, one adviser said, and mistakenly concluded that the pro-Morsi rally in Cairo outnumbered the protests against him. “We felt a sense of relief,” the adviser said. The next day, on Monday, General Sisi gave political leaders a 48-hour ultimatum to reach a compromise. A shaken Morsi adviser, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said at the time the president’s team considered it “a military coup.”

Mr. Morsi’s advisers had meetings with Ms. Patterson and her deputy as well as a phone call with Ms. Rice, the national security adviser. Mr. Morsi’s advisers argued that ousting the president would be “a long term disaster” for Egypt and the Arab world because people would “lose faith in democracy.” They said it would set off an explosion in the streets that they could not control. And they argued that the United States was implicated: “Nobody who knows Egypt is going to believe a coup could go forward without a green light from the Americans.”

At a meeting with General Sisi at 2 p.m. the next day, Mr. Morsi’s advisers said that they had their coalition’s blessing to accept the earlier concessions the general had suggested before the protest. But when the general returned to the Republican Guard building at 6 p.m., he said “the opposition” had balked, the advisers said. Mr. Morsi’s team did not know who the general actually consulted and the young protest leaders and some other opposition leaders said they did not know either. But that night Mr. Morsi delivered a fiery address denouncing his opponents as traitorous conspirators. General Sisi later publicly cited the speech as a turning point in his decision to act. On Wednesday, the generals convened a four-hour meeting at military headquarters with protest and opposition party leaders. The head of Mr. Morsi’s Islamist party, now jailed, was invited but did not attend. In Washington, officials stepped back and said little.

Mr. Morsi had been working out of his guards’ house for his own security during the protests. As he waited to be arrested, he told stories about the politicians of his youth. “He was as relaxed as I’ve ever seen him,” one adviser said. As the last aides to leave walked out, one heard a general tell his guards: “Lock the gates.”

(Source: New York Times, July 6, 2013)

US Bankrolled anti-Morsi Activists

Documents reveal US money trail to Egyptian groups that pressed for president's removal.

Berkeley, United States - President Barack Obama recently stated the United States was not taking sides as Egypt's crisis came to a head with the military overthrow of the democratically elected president.

But a review of dozens of US federal government documents shows Washington has quietly funded senior Egyptian opposition figures who called for toppling of the country's now-deposed president Mohamed Morsi.

Documents obtained by the Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley show the US channeled funding through a State Department programme to promote democracy in the Middle East region. This programme vigorously supported activists and politicians who have fomented unrest in Egypt, after autocratic president Hosni Mubarak was ousted in a popular uprising in February 2011.

The State Department's programme, dubbed by US officials as a "democracy assistance" initiative, is part of a wider Obama administration effort to try to stop the retreat of pro-Washington secularists, and to win back influence in Arab Spring countries that saw the rise of Islamists, who largely oppose US interests in the Middle East.

Activists bankrolled by the programme include an exiled Egyptian police officer who plotted the violent overthrow of the Morsi government, an anti-Islamist politician who advocated closing mosques and dragging preachers out by force, as well as a coterie of opposition politicians who pushed for the ouster of the country's first democratically elected leader, government documents show.

Information obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, interviews, and public records reveal Washington's "democracy assistance" may have violated Egyptian law, which prohibits foreign political funding.

It may also have broken US government regulations that ban the use of taxpayers' money to fund foreign politicians, or finance subversive activities that target democratically elected governments.

'Bureau for Democracy'

Washington's democracy assistance programme for the Middle East is filtered through a pyramid of agencies within the State Department. Hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars is channeled through the Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL), The Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), USAID, as well as the Washington-based, quasi-governmental organisation the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

In turn, those groups re-route money to other organisations such as the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute (NDI), and Freedom House, among others. Federal documents show these groups have sent funds to certain organisations in Egypt, mostly run by senior members of anti-Morsi political parties who double as NGO activists.

The Middle East Partnership Initiative - launched by the George W Bush administration in 2002 in a bid to influence politics in the Middle East in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks - has spent close to $900m on democracy projects across the region, a federal grants database shows.

USAID manages about $1.4bn annually in the Middle East, with nearly $390m designated for democracy promotion, according to the Washington-based Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED).

The US government doesn't issue figures on democracy spending per country, but Stephen McInerney, POMED's executive director, estimated that Washington spent some $65m in 2011 and $25m in 2012. He said he expects a similar amount paid out this year.

A main conduit for channeling the State Department's democracy funds to Egypt has been the National Endowment for Democracy. Federal documents show NED, which in 2011 was authorised an annual budget of $118m by Congress, funneled at least $120,000 over several years to an exiled Egyptian police officer who has for years incited violence in his native country.

This appears to be in direct contradiction to its Congressional mandate, which clearly states NED is to engage only in "peaceful" political change overseas.

Exiled policeman

Colonel Omar Afifi Soliman - who served in Egypt's elite investigative police unit, notorious for human rights abuses - began receiving NED funds in 2008 for at least four years.

During that time he and his followers targeted Mubarak's government, and Soliman later followed the same tactics against the military rulers who briefly replaced him. Most recently Soliman set his sights on Morsi's government.

Soliman, who has refugee status in the US, was sentenced in absentia last year for five years imprisonment by a Cairo court for his role in inciting violence in 2011 against the embassies of Israel and Saudi Arabia, two US allies.

He also used social media to encourage violent attacks against Egyptian officials, according to court documents and a review of his social media posts.

US Internal Revenue Service documents reveal thatNED paid tens of thousands of dollars to Soliman through an organisation he created called Hukuk Al-Nas (People's Rights), based in Falls Church, Virginia. Federal forms show he is the only employee.

After he was awarded a 2008 human rights fellowship at NED and moved to the US, Soliman received a second $50,000 NED grant in 2009 for Hukuk Al-Nas. In 2010, he received $60,000 and another $10,000 in 2011.

In an interview with the Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley, Soliman reluctantly admitted he received US government funding from the National Endowment for Democracy, but complained it wasn't enough. "It is like $2000 or $2,500 a month," he said. "Do you think this is too much? Obama wants to give us peanuts. We will not accept that."

NED has removed public access to its Egyptian grant recipients in 2011 and 2012 from its website. NED officials didn't respond to repeated interview requests.

'Pro bono advice'

NED's website says Soliman spreads only nonviolent literature, and his group was set up to provide "immediate, pro bono legal advice through a telephone hotline, instant messaging, and other social networking tools".

However, in Egyptian media interviews, social media posts and YouTube videos, Soliman encouraged the violent overthrow of Egypt's government, then led by the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party.

"Incapacitate them by smashing their knee bones first," he instructed followers on Facebook in late June, as Morsi's opponents prepared massive street rallies against the government. Egypt's US-funded and trainedmilitary later used those demonstrations to justify its coup on July 3.

"Make a road bump with a broken palm tree to stop the buses going into Cairo, and drench the road around it with gas and diesel. When the bus slows down for the bump, set it all ablaze so it will burn down with all the passengers inside … God bless," Soliman's post read.

In late May he instructed, "Behead those who control power, water and gas utilities."

Soliman removed several older social media posts after authorities in Egypt took notice of his subversive instructions, court documents show.

More recent Facebook instructions to his 83,000 followers range from guidelines on spraying roads with a mix of auto oil and gas - "20 liters of oil to 4 liters of gas"- to how to thwart cars giving chase.

On a YouTube video, Soliman took credit for a failed attempt in December to storm the Egyptian presidential palace with handguns and Molotov cocktails to oust Morsi.

"We know he gets support from some groups in the US, but we do not know he is getting support from the US government. This would be news to us," said an Egyptian embassy official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media.

Funding other Morsi opponents

Other beneficiaries of US government funding are also opponents of the now-deposed president, some who had called for Morsi's removal by force.

The Salvation Front main opposition bloc, of which some members received US funding, has backed street protest campaigns that turned violent against the elected government, in contradiction of many of the State Department's own guidelines.

A longtime grantee of the National Endowment for Democracy and other US democracy groups is a 34-year old Egyptian woman, Esraa Abdel-Fatah, who sprang to notoriety during the country's pitched battle over the new constitution in December 2012.

She exhorted activists to lay siege to mosques and drag from pulpits all Muslim preachers and religious figures who supported the country's the proposed constitution, just before it went to a public referendum.

The act of besieging mosques has continued ever since, and several people have died in clashes defending them.

Federal records show Abdel-Fatah's NGO, the Egyptian Democratic Academy, received support from NED, MEPI and NDI, among other State Department-funded groups "assisting democracy". Records show NED gave her organisation a one-year $75,000 grant in 2011.

Abdel-Fatah is politically active, crisscrossing Egypt to rally support for her Al-Dostor Party, which is led by former UN nuclear chief Mohamed El-Baradei, the most prominent figure in the Salvation Front. She lent full support to the military takeover, and urged the West not call it a "coup".

"June 30 will be the last day of Morsi's term," she told the press a few weeks before the coup took place.

US taxpayer money has also been sent to groups set up by some of Egypt's richest people, raising questions about waste in the democracy programme.

Michael Meunier is a frequent guest on TV channels that opposed Morsi. Head of the Al-Haya Party, Meunier - a dual US-Egyptian citizen - has quietly collected US funding through his NGO, Hand In Hand for Egypt Association.

Meunier's organisation was founded by some of the most vehement opposition figures, including Egypt's richest man and well-known Coptic Christian billionaire Naguib Sawiris, Tarek Heggy, an oil industry executive, Salah Diab, Halliburton's partner in Egypt, and Usama Ghazali Harb, a politician with roots in the Mubarak regime and a frequent US embassy contact.

Meunier has denied receiving US assistance, but government documents show USAID in 2011 granted his Cairo-based organisation $873,355. Since 2009, it has taken in $1.3 million from the US agency.

Meunier helped rally the country's five million Christian Orthodox Coptic minority, who oppose Morsi's Islamist agenda, to take to the streets against the president on June 30.

Reform and Development Party member Mohammed Essmat al-Sadat received US financial support through his Sadat Association for Social Development, a grantee of The Middle East Partnership Initiative.

The federal grants records and database show in 2011 Sadat collected $84,445 from MEPI "to work with youth in the post-revolutionary Egypt".

Sadat was a member of the coordination committee, the main organising body for the June 30 anti-Morsi protest. Since 2008, he has collected $265,176 in US funding. Sadat announced he will be running for office again in upcoming parliamentary elections.

After soldiers and police killed more than 50 Morsi supporters on Monday, Sadat defended the use of force and blamed the Muslim Brotherhood, saying it used women and children as shields.

Some US-backed politicians have said Washington tacitly encouraged them to incite protests.

"We were told by the Americans that if we see big street protests that sustain themselves for a week, they will reconsider all current US policies towards the Muslim Brotherhood regime," said Saaddin Ibrahim, an Egyptian-American politician opposed Morsi.

Ibrahim's Ibn Khaldoun Center in Cairo receives US funding, one of the largest recipients of democracy promotion money in fact.

His comments followed statements by other Egyptian opposition politicians claiming they had been prodded by US officials to whip up public sentiment against Morsi before Washington could publicly weigh in.

Democracy programme defence

The practice of funding politicians and anti-government activists through NGOs was vehemently defended by the State Department and by a group of Washington-based Middle East experts close to the programme.

"The line between politics and activism is very blurred in this country," said David Linfield, spokesman for the US Embassy in Cairo.

Others said the United States cannot be held responsible for activities by groups it doesn't control.

"It's a very hot and dynamic political scene," said Michelle Dunne, an expert at the Atlantic Council think-tank. Her husband, Michael Dunne, was given a five-year jail sentence in absentia by a Cairo court for his role in political funding in Egypt.

"Just because you give someone some money, you cannot take away their freedom or the position they want to take," said Dunne.

Elliot Abrams, a former official in the administration of George W. Bush and a member of the Working Group on Egypt that includes Dunne, denied in an email message that the US has paid politicians in Egypt, or elsewhere in the Middle East.

"The US does not provide funding for parties or 'local politicians' in Egypt or anywhere else," said Abrams. "That is prohibited by law and the law is scrupulously obeyed by all US agencies, under careful Congressional oversight."

But a State Department official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the issue's sensitivity, said American support for foreign political activists was in line with American principles.

"The US government provides support to civil society, democracy and human rights activists around the world, in line with our long-held values, such as respecting the fundamental human rights of free speech, peaceful assembly, and human dignity," the official wrote in an email. "US outreach in Egypt is consistent with these principles."

A Cairo court convicted 43 local and foreign NGO workers last month on charges of illegally using foreign funds to stir unrest in Egypt. The US and UN expressed concern over the move.

Out of line

Some Middle East observers suggested the US' democracy push in Egypt may be more about buying influence than spreading human rights and good governance.

"Funding of politicians is a problem," said Robert Springborg, who evaluated democracy programmes for the State Department in Egypt, and is now a professor at the National Security Department of the Naval Postgraduate School at Monterey, California.

"If you run a programme for electoral observation, or for developing media capacity for political parties, I am not against that. But providing lots of money to politicians - I think that raises lots of questions," Springborg said.

Some Egyptians, meanwhile, said the US was out of line by sending cash through its democracy programme in the Middle East to organisations run by political operators.

"Instead of being sincere about backing democracy and reaching out to the Egyptian people, the US has chosen an unethical path," said Esam Neizamy, an independent researcher into foreign funding in Egypt, and a member of the country's Revolutionary Trustees, a group set up to protect the 2011 revolution.

"The Americans think they can outsmart lots of people in the Middle East. They are being very hostile against the Egyptian people who have nothing but goodwill for them - so far," Neizamy said.

Emad Mekay is a journalist with the Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley, which conducted this investigation

(Source: Al Jazeera, 10 July 2013)

Living in denial: US Policy & Egypt’s Military Coup

The US must acknowledge that the overthrow of an elected government, replaced by military-appointed officials, is a coup.

John L. Esposito

Living in denial never ends well, and failure to recognise Egypt’s military coup will prove counter productive for both Egyptians and Western policymakers.

The US is hard pressed to recognise the importance of calling Morsi’s removal and the appointment of leadership by the military for what it is, a coup. If mishandled by the military and interim government Egypt could be set back for at least another generation, adding to modern Egypt’s 60-year history of authoritarian rule. At the same time, it will generate anti-Western sentiment that may well become a significant security threat.

The US and Europe will be judged against their espoused principles and values, their commitment to the promotion of democracy and human rights. Thus far they are failing the test, much as they did for decades when they supported authoritarian regimes in Egypt, Tunisia, Latin America, and elsewhere. The US and EU need to act now to counter the hardening perception, based on leaks and credible reporting, that the US knew about and - both through its actions and calculated inaction - supported the military coup.

Commitment to the democratic process has been undermined by the continued reluctance and equivocation of the US and others to call a spade a spade. The overthrow of a democratically elected government and its replacement by military-appointed officials is a coup. At the heart of democracy is a commitment to the democratic process and acceptance of the notion of a loyal opposition. Political leaders are elected to office and turned out of office through recourse to the ballot box. The opposition can oppose, even despise, incumbents and employ every legal means to turn them out of office but they remain loyal to the nation and the democratic process or the entire system has no basis of legitimacy. As Mohamed Adel Ismail, a 26-year-old Egyptian social worker put it: "He [Morsi] made some catastrophic mistakes, that must be said, but my understanding of democracy is you allow him to rule and fail and then vote him out."

Despite the "interim government," led by former Mubarak-appointed officials, making promises of political inclusion and a more democratic process, Morsi has been held incommunicado amidst talk of future charges of sedition or other crimes. The Brotherhood has been subjected to wide spread arrests and detention and denounced as terrorists as the military guns down and beats non-violent demonstrators - most recently killing some 51 people and injuring more than 400. The military’s purpose is transparent and in line with the modus operandi of Mubarak for decades: use brute force to intimidate, repress, and provoke the opposition to violence and then say, "Look I told you they were wolves in sheep’s clothing".

The perception of existential threat that the Brotherhood now feels must be alleviated. Immediate steps by the US and EU in this direction would include demanding to meet with President Morsi immediately, and demand his immediate release as well as that of all political prisoners and detained family members. In addition, the call for a national dialogue that includes the FJP, military representatives, and other political parties in order to identify a path forward that is acceptable to all.

The US and EU must also call for an independent investigation into the attacks on demonstrators and a process by which any parties that used excessive force will be held accountable. It is important the US and EU stress that any future democratic process must allow for the full inclusion of any and all political parties that have participated in post-Mubarak elections, calling for the setting and strict adherence to a date in the near future for elections in which all parties (including the FJP) are able to participate.

To have the above goals taken seriously by the military-backed government, the US and EU must use their only effective bargaining chip for leverage: the cut-off of military aid in accordance with law, and the withholding of recognition of an interim government until the above steps are taken. At the same time, they should carefully monitor the treatment of Morsi, MB and FJP members, and their supporters and denounce in unequivocal terms the use of weapons against unarmed protestors. This would send a clear message to those currently in power and to the Arab world.

The Arab uprisings signaled a desire for a new way forward, an overthrow of the established order in many Arab countries of authoritarian governments, and a struggle to establish a new kind of democracy. A military-backed coup is clearly a return to the past. Egypt’s first democratically elected president was bound to make mistakes, due to the "democratic deficit" in both systems and culture as a result of decades of authoritarian rule.

Indeed, Morsi and the Brotherhood leadership made many mistakes. They proved ill-equipped to make the transition from a movement organised and geared to survival under threat of siege to an inclusive sufficiently representative (politically and religiously) government. But they also did not control the vast majority of the government bureaucracy, including the military, intelligence, judiciary, interior ministry and police forces, which were - and remain still - remnants of the Mubarak regime. This constitutes a deep state bent on bringing down the Morsi government and likely any other that threaten their stranglehold on power and privileges behind the scenes. The international community: US, IMF, a variety of European countries, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, were all lukewarm at best and aggressively obstructionist at worst in assisting the Morsi government to address the daunting challenge of an inherited failed economy and high unemployment. Yet within days after the coup, Saudi and the UAE were quick to promise billions of dollars in aid.

The message the Obama administration is sending, whether intended or not, is that there is a double standard, much as there was in the decades of US support for authoritarian regimes of the past. Now, in emerging democracies, the rules of the game do not apply to a democratically elected Islamic government. This is reflected in the Obama administration’s equivocation and, in effect, denial that the removal of Morsi was a coup just as it was reflected when the George W. Bush administration equivocated about calling water-boarding torture or the rendition programme a violation of human rights and international law. And before him, his father George H. W. Bush’s administration agreement to the Algerian military’s takeover in the face of the Islamic Salvation Front’s electoral victory, resulting in a ""dirty war" that left more than 150,000 Algerians dead in a population of about 25 million.

Long term Western nations’ interests in Egypt, and the wider region, are best served through representative governments elected through a democratic process, rule of law, and independent institutions.

(Source: Al Jazeera, 15 July 2013)

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