Friday, 16 August 2013

The Egyptian Crisis: Why Obama Will Not Cut Aid to Egypt.

'Instead of addressing the issue of the coup and its implications for US aid to Egypt, he announced that the US would not hold joint military exercises with the Egyptians, which was just about the smallest punishment that he could have chosen, short of doing nothing'.
Daniel Larison: Unless Obama cuts aid to Egypt, he'll be seen as endorsing coup and crackdown .The Guardian Thursday 15 August 2013.
President Obama is going to continue doing nothing because the retaining the support of the Egyptian generals ( SCAF ) is believed crucial to maintaining American foreign policy goals and geopolitical objectives such as the continued supply of relatively cheap oil and gas from the Middle East.

The only reason John McCain is now posturing and calling for an end to the military aid is for the domestic political aim of making Obama seem indecisive and weak. It is merely a way for him to present himself as not Obama at a time when he is facing the consequent fallout of a policy the dates back to 1979.

The Egyptian army is funded by the US to preserve the security of the Sinai Peninsula that borders Israel and is close to Saudi Arabia with which the US also has a strategic military partnership based on oil and arms deals. The Sumed pipeline pumps oil west from the Gulf and needs protection.

Even if the US cancelled military aid, it would acheive little that Saudi Arabia could not do by stepping in to provide more than the $10 billion it has already given the regime for removing and eliminating the Muslim Brotherhood, a movement seen as a potential threat to the oil rich kingdom.

Given that the Obama administration has also seen setbacks in Syria, with the Sunni insurgents being rolled back and defeated by President Assad with help from Hezbollah and Iran, US primacy in the Middle East is seen as threatened which is why McCain is getting increasingly critical.

Yet the security of the Suez Canal is vital to uphold US interests in the Persian Gulf against the nation McCain has ranted against more than any other- Iran. It was Iran's breaking free from US control over its oil in 1979 along with the USSR's invasion of Afghanistan that created the current balance of power.

With Iran being seen as a potential menace to US oil interests in the Persian Gulf, the Suez Canal was all the more vital as a rapid sea route for US Fifth Fleet to have a shortcut to the region. The treaty with Egypt of 1979 gives the US exclusive quick passage whereas other powers must wait weeks.

The naval carriers are also vital to the war effort in Afghanistan. One central war aim seldom mentioned is to secure the construction of the TAPI pipeline as an alternative to Iran's rival IP pipeline through to Pakistan. The transport of Liquified Natural Gas via the Suez Canal is a strategic 'energy security' concern.

With an energy hungry and assertive China also courting influence in Iraq and Saudi Arabia, US dependence upon 12 % of its oil from Saudi Arabia ensures that Washington is going to continue to back the Egyptian army because to do otherwise would severely threaten the basis of  its foreign policy in the Middle East.

For some years now the US has been wary on increased Chinese influence in the oil rich kingdom and Russia's tendency to cooperate with Iran and Syria. One reason for the Iraq War in 2003 was to control the globe's second largest oil reserves in order to diversify oil supply.

However, as the Iraq war backfired and led in time to China gaining more oil concessions, the US has seen its global reach shrink and it is not going to want to lose Egypt to rival powers vying for influence in Iraq and Syria-especially Iran along with Russia and China.

With lucrative arms deals with Egypt at stake and increased rivalry with China and Russia in the New Great Game that has arisen in the wake of the end of the Cold War, Washington is not going to halt the flow of military aid nor, more ominously, is it going to watch should Egypt slide into chaos.


  1. After a quick double check, below confirms what I thought was right: U.S. does not get much oil from Saudi Arabia. Only 12.9%, due to 1973 oil embargo, U.S. made alternative plans. Still, they definitely want to outsource their security services to control the oil high ways and byways, Washington that is and to potentially open up private contracts progressively.

    I was just thinking about Sissi, and what he is playing at. I have been closely following events almost at 12 to 14 hours a day as they happen. I notice the rhetoric, where he is standing up openly against so called 'US' interests or demands. I, now recall, that one of his papers when he studied here in PA in 2007, or most of his papers, had an Islamism bent too. So, it is about power, and I think he is developing a personal 'vision' quest for a greater middle east.

    As you have led me to see, with the Sumed, and with my other analysis, it is becoming increasingly clear that Washington needs him (or his cabal) more than they need Washington. Saudi Arabia, needs them more too, but, as well, with the increased aid and regional existential threats facing everyone there, I see Saudi working with Sissi now. Arguably, Saudi interests are greater in Egypt, and Sissi does not like, based on his work here, the prideful anti Islamic anti Arab counter-terror narrative the U.S. et al produce and consume.

    I am starting to grasp what is truly at stake here. I think there is a movement to re-address the regional balance of power through a greater Egypt. I always thought it strange to build up someone else's army long term, as they could just use you, and then tell you to sod off one day.

    Egypt, is the historic leader of the MENA, culturally, that is, and everyone there looks up to it. Now, Iran supports the MB, but ultimately they despise Washington's meddling in the region, and if give the choice, would gladly help push them out of the region. Many of the people in all the countries feel this way too.

    1. (pt 2)

      While there are competing interests and conflicting goals at a lower level, I think at a macro level many in the region could coalesce around a bold nation. Even if it does not occur, the process, will lead to a lot of uncertainty and much change. I am sure now, that he has a vision quest. Most people in the world are sick of terror talk, talk, talk, and Arabs, and Muslims are even more sick of such reductionism. There entire history, religion, culture, and even existence must be summed up in such a silly statement while the US through Washington is not what it states it is, or what the domestic population here believes through marketing romantic nationalist propaganda.

      Sissi and Saudi are standing up against the current norm, openly destroying all dissent publicly through violence, mocking anyone who would stand against them, encouraging and growing a new sense of secular romantic nationalism in the lower masses, recognizing that more could be had and noting the weakness (internal, external) of the U.S. after two decades of war and economic crisis under-girding the international economy. A small push, and the fear of it, will make Dragons' knees wobble, and there are so many fears and false fears having been perpetuated lately: terrorist, nuclear Iran, NK, rising China, etc.

      As well, I see what Sissi is doing: he is putting up a global mirror publicly, going against what you call 'public diplomacy', through a moral mirror showing the world, and our domestic public, what Washington really is, and thus, what the United States really is, at a time when many have concerns and doubts revealed through lies and the NSA. It is one thing, to believe 'our' country is manifest destiny, Gods child, and loving and indispensable, and necessary, to commit some evils for a greater good, perhaps, but now 'we' see 'they' are even doing it to us? I see this already, as i took of my RN glasses, once I found out I had them on; as its like secular possession for Americans, and any nation that has RN so powerfully, as you cannot see what you really our through faith that you are more: romantic love.

      Sissi, is not only calling Wash's bluff openly, watching how that power blow reacts, seeing the feebleness of Europe, and he really does believe in this vision, I am sure, and the region is screwed up for them, due to extra territorial meddling.

      I guess a potential regional geopolitical mob could form, a strong regional alliance to make the region secure for the region, or a horrible macro/micro proxy war between domestic 'arab spring' like citizens screaming for their Arab enlightenment moment, while others fight to divide the spoils previously sacrificed to Washington at a pittance of what it could be if owned locally. the plot thickens..