Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Would the US Back a Military Coup in Egypt ?

Some are already suggesting the US is  involved in the coup but just cannot publicly support it and has been hypocritically keeping its distance from it.Many would like the believe that the US had done because that would simplify their interpretation of events.

Even so, there is still no evidence do that the US has any interests in instigating a coup. Obviously the US cannot publicly support the military takeover as that would be technically illegal and it would have difficulties justifying the $1.3 bn it funds the Egyptian military with.

But that it not the same as being active in backing a coup and plotting with the Egyptian military to overthrow Morsi, something that was not clearly in the interests of the US. Morsi was prepared to accept the IMF plans for the economy and US policy on Syria.

On the other hand, Morsi's pan-Islamist rhetoric was hugely unpopular with the Egyptian military. Not least the intention to relax border restrictions on the Gaza Strip which military figures claimed would endanger security in Sinai and allow pro-Morsi terrorists to enter Egypt.

Given that the US has funded the Egyptian military to preserve the nation as an 'anchor of stability' in the Middle East-in particular its peace treaties with Israel which date back to the end of the 1973 war-it has no interest in being seen to be either for or against the army's actions.

For a start, the Muslim Brotherhood leaders during the 48 hour period they were given by the military to step down started to try and frame the action as though there might have been US backing. In the event of being overthrown they could then mobilise anti-American sentiments.

Even so, unless there is evidence the US actually did explicity give backing to a coup, the conclusion has to be that events simply caught the US and UK off guard. Before the coup the main focus of both powers was on Syria. And Blair has his own self serving reasons for his views.

Ultimately, the US will most likely give tacit de facto support to the Egyptian military's action as and when 'stability' is restored and some semblence of democracy reintroduced. But the Muslim Brotherhood has every interest in protracting the crisis so that looks unlikely.

But it seems obvious that the US did not want to be put in this position at a time when it was considering arming the Sunni insurgents in Syria to fight against the pro-Iranian Alawi regime of Assad. One important group in that struggle is led by the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood and backed by Turkey.

More generally Western policy in the Middle East is in total disarray at present. The idea Washington has or can have total control over events there is a comforting myth believed in by fervent believers in US imperialism and its staunchest critics alike. There is no evidence for it.

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