Monday, November 28, 2011

Egypt struggles for democracy, US backs tyranny

There has been a fairly successful attempt over the months since the beginning of the Arab Spring to re-write history putting America and other western powers on the side of the protesters, rather than on the side of their oppressors. The opposite was the case, and still is.

Up until the very last days America was calling for a "transition" led by either Mubarak himself, or the much-hated Omar Suleiman - a man allegedly responsible for horrific oppression, including personally overseeing the torture of Australian citizen Mamdouh Habib - to lead the transitional government.

This made sense of course, Suleiman was someone the Americans had experience dealing with. Habib's alleged torture, like that of many others in Egypt's nightmarish dungeons, was committed, one can only assume, at America's behest. American forces took Habib from Pakistan, and transferred him to Egypt where he says he suffered unspeakable acts of violence and humiliation before being turned back over to American custody and transferred to Guantanimo Bay.

There are many stories like his. They demonstrate the close cooperation between America's imperial system and the odious Mubarak regime. Only after it became resoundingly clear that neither Mubarak nor one of his cronies would placate the Egyptian people did America give up on them. They then decided to throw their weight behind the next best thing. They did not have to look far.

When the uprising began, Sami Annan, a senior figure in the Egyptian military and currently the deputy chairman of the Supreme council of Armed Forces - effectively the Number 2 man in the country - was in Washington meeting with high ranking American officers. This kind of military-to-military contact, including a great deal of joint training and exercises - such as the biannual Operation Bright Star - has been an important and under-reported fact of world politics for decades. When Sadat signed the Camp David accords, forging a submissive peace with Israel, and bringing Egypt into the American fold, the military still had an almost exclusive grip on power, and it was with them that Washington first developed its relationship. The cornerstone of this relationship was then, as it is now, massive military aid, which America has poured into Egypt's secretive military budget ever since. In 2010 this is estimated to have been around $1.3 billion, making Egypt the second largest recipient of US military aid, with Israel predictably, coming in at number one.


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