“These discredited Egyptian liberals made their bed with the generals, now they are being forced to sleep in it. So just relax and enjoy it for the next thirty years: you’ve earned it……………” Me
Here is my broad-brush take on political developments in Egypt since 2011:
- In February 2011 during the uprising against the regime of Hosni Mubarak, many of his Egyptian opponents claimed that the Obama administration was trying to shore up his position, to keep him in power.
- On the other hand, many of his supporters complained that the United States was trying to overthrow him, by not helping him. Saudi King Abdullah, who famously claimed the protesters at Tahrir were foreign agents, is still pissed upset at Obama for not helping Mubarak crush his people.
- After Mubarak fell, almost everybody in Egypt who was not an army general claimed the Obama administration was keeping the SCAF military junta in power. Some among the military probably suspected that Obama was ready to throw them under one of those crowded Cairo buses.
- In the summer of 2012, Mohammad Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood won the presidency in free and fair close elections. His domestic and Arab opponents mostly acted as if the Obama administration had somehow helped him win the election. The Islamists claimed that he won in spite of American plots against him. Persian Gulf princes and potentates who could not tell an election from the proverbial ‘hole in the ground’ apparently suspected foul play. Egypt’s liberals joined forces with the oligarchs and the Mubarakistas and the Wahhabis to call for ‘restoration’ of the feloul.
- In July of 2013 General Al Sisi, whom Morsi had promoted to minister of defense, stabbed him in the back by staging a military coup that overthrew the elected president. Al Sisi was urged to act by three factions: Egypt’s deluded liberals, the feloul, and the Gulf princes and potentates. The Muslim Brotherhood -MB- claimed the Americans were in cahoots with the military. Admittedly that was a very tempting suspicion, given the history.
- At the time U.S. congressional delegations to Cairo had divergent opinions: McCain/Graham said correctly that July 3 of 2013 was a military coup; Bachmann/Gohmert (the idiot delegation) praised the military coup even as they told Egyptians of the joys of American electoral democracy.
- The other side in Egypt, the liberals and oligarchs and feloul, claimed the Americans had made a deal with the MB and had wanted them in power. Egypt’s ‘liberals’, most of whom had urged the military to stage a coup and supported it, now proceeded to whine that the military had made plans with Washington to take power (after a coup that these same liberals pushed for and supported).
Continue reading America on the Nile, Whining on the Nile: Time to Grow Up on the Nile?…….. →
Syrian media reported that an ecstatic Bashar Al Assad met with an uncharacteristically cheerful Iranian parliamentary delegation that had monitored the Syrian election. The Iranians insisted they did not care who won as long as the election went smoothly and everybody from Al Raqqah through, er, Beirut got to vote. They declared themselves satisfied with the election process. They claimed the elections were as free and fair as they had wished them to be, and the results (Assad won with 88%) were fantastic. “Could not be better”, said one bearded Iranian who insisted they were in Damascus as just impartial observers “to keep the honest, honest”.………
Egyptian media is quoted by my Cairo source claiming that General Al Sisi met with a gaggle of Gulf princes and potentates who had monitored the Egyptian election from the GCC democracy-monitoring headquarters in Riyadh. They declared the voting to have been free, fair, and very democratic, “almost as good as anything we have never seen back home”. One worthy grumbled that it was actually too democratic “if you ask me“, even if not tribal enough. When asked about the results (Sisi won with 97%), they said it was obviously fantastic and ordained by Allah and “why haggle over a lousy 3% discrepancy?”………
One smirking shaikh added his own version of a
Parthian parting shot: “unlike that Great Big Zero election held in Syria“…….
“Tens of thousands of Assad supporters flocked to the hilltop embassy in a town south-east of the Lebanese capital to cast ballots, snarling traffic outside, keeping schoolchildren trapped in buses for hours and forcing some schools to cancel scheduled exams. Lebanon has more than a million Syrian refugees. “With our souls, with our blood, we will sacrifice for you, Bashar” and “long live Syria!” were some of the chants heard from many in the crowd. Despite the carnage in Syria, the country’s president has retained significant support among large sections of the population, particularly among Christians, Alawites and other religious minorities……………”
Comparing Middle East elections and regional and international reactions to them can be enlightening and educational:
- Remember when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won re-election as president of Iran in 2009? He won with only about 57% of the vote, allegedly with some “irregularities”. There was a huge media and political circus from Riyadh through London and Paris all the way to Washington and New York. Even absolute tribal ruling families from Riyadh through Doha to Manama and Abu Dhabi lamented the sorry state of democracy in Iran. It was about several weeks of “tsk tsk”. Even Secretary of State Hillary Clinton opined publicly that Iran was now a “military dictatorship” (she was talking about Iran and not about Egypt or China). When Rouhani won his election in 2013 it was a different story.
- Back to Egypt and her perpetually funny non-elections under both Mubarak and Sisi (not under Morsi: he won a close election and fairly, maybe because the Mubarak bureaucracy was still running Egypt and tried to lose him the election). Now Generalisimo Field Marshal Al Sisi apparently unofficially has his 98% victory (Al Ahram early estimates), in true Arab style (not as perfect as North Korean style, but close).
- On to Syria. The cheeky Bashar Al Assad is also running in his own election in Syria, but he has more opponents on the ballot than Al Sisi. The shocking thing may be that percentage voter turnout among Syrians is probably much higher than in Egypt: that is what it looks like now. Even Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon, most of them Sunnis, are voting heavily, no doubt most of them for Al Assad whose days are supposedly numbered. The media pictures from refugee camps and from Beirut and Amman and other places show long lines of Syrian exiles voting for the man whose actions supposedly made them refugees. Which is puzzling, given that they are allegedly supposed to be eager for the Al Saud and Al Thani and Al Hollande and Al McCain and a bunch of Al Others to liberate their country for democracy.
- Meanwhile Al Sisi, the newest dictator on the bloc and his henchmen have tried to extend voting time and threaten people to vote in order to avoid embarrassing low turnout.
When it is all over we will have the expected predictable results, with Al Sisi matching or perhaps outdoing Mubarak in his “victory” margin in the upper nineties. Early results claim he won by nearly 98% but still less than Kim Jon Un’s victory margin and less than the Saudi King’s margin.
- The Western powers and others will sigh of relief and welcome the new “democratic” order in Egypt, except that it is an old order, actually older than the old order in Syria. And it is also no more democratic than the one in Syria.
- Then there is divided Iraq, which is beset with Wahhabi terrorist bombings almost every day, yet it manages to complete its elections. They are imperfect and tinged with both sectarian and tribal prejudices, but they don’t seem to need to coerce and threaten people to vote.