Problems on hold
In a sudden move totally unexpected by Egyptians, Minister of Foreign Affairs Nabil Fahmy paid a visit to the United States where he met Secretary of State John Kerry and senior congressmen. Officially
, it was declared the visit aimed at healing the rift between the Egyptian and American administrations. At the same time, the Pentagon announced it was lifting the temporary freeze on delivering previously contracted Apache helicopters to Egypt. Mr Kerry notified Congress of the resumption of US military aid to Egypt, which was suspended in the wake of the 30 June 2013 Revolution and the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood’s (MB) Muhammad Mursi.
The surprise US visit came at a time when Egyptian sentiments are rife with anger and bitterness against the US administration—not the American people—because of this administration’s stubborn, hostile persistence to turn a blind eye to the massive public will which brought about the 30 June Revolution in 2013. The West saw the revolution, which led to the overthrow of the Islamist President Muhammad Mursi and his Muslim Brotherhood regime, as a military coup against an elected civic president. Egyptians, who revelled in their deliverance from the MB, were deeply offended by the US stance; it was as though their 33 million-strong revolution counted for nothing. At first many in Egypt thought the US stance was owing to a misunderstanding of the Egyptian situation and to a hasty, oversensitive wariness of the alignment of the Egyptian Armed Forces with the revolution of the people. Egyptians thought the US would change its mind once it became obvious Egypt was serious about democratic reform, but weeks and months passed and the US did not give up its obstinate persistence in opposing the Egyptian efforts at reform, to the point where it suspended military aid. This stance fuelled public wrath against the US, and worked to lend credibility to the theory of a joint conspiracy between the US and MB against the Egyptian people. America turned from a staunch friend to a fierce foe.
It was thus that the Egyptian government’s move to revive relations with Russia was greeted with warm public applause. The visits to Moscow earlier this year by Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi who was then Defence Minister, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs Nabil Fahmy generated eager response. Mainstream Egyptians saw in these visits a near-severing of Egyptian American relations and a new honeymoon with Russia; Egypt was seen to exit the US camp and circle the Russian orbit. Even though Mr Fahmy refuted this assumption by stressing that gaining new allies did not mean giving up old friends, the claim was endorsed by one and all. So the recent US rapprochement with Egypt has been explained off as an attempt by the US to heal the Egyptian American rift.
If the recent visit by Fahmy to the US startled mainstream Egyptians, it did not surprise observant monitors of the political scene. It was already obvious that a US re-assessment of what had taken place in Egypt was inevitable, and that it would bring about recognition of the change in Egypt and the Roadmap towards democratic reform. This was bound to lead to American respect for the Egyptian people’s will and their efforts at reform and democracy. The US had to acknowledge that Egyptians rebelled on 30 June 2013 against a president who seriously abused them, and that they have ever since had to sustain horrendous terrorist blows by his supporters. The true, ugly face of the MB was bared.
In fact, however, the political shift in the American stance is no surprise. The Russian Egyptian honeymoon might have sparked it all right, but it is in all probability the UK move to investigate the activities, objectives, and terrorist acts of the MB, as well as their hand in the bombings, assassinations and violence in Egypt, that might have sealed the US decision. When British Prime Minister David Cameron demands an intelligence report on the impact of the scale of the MB numbers and activity in the UK on the country’s national security, and when the Austrian government and people unanimously reject the MB intention to move their headquarters from London to Graz, the US must listen. Obviously, such moves sent clear warnings that the MB is implicated in the allegations against it.
Coincidentally, recent reports and studies in the West have warned in no uncertain terms against proponents of political Islam who flee their countries, only to exploit the tolerance of their western host countries that welcome them with open arms. They enjoy the stability, democracy, and human rights in the West to take strength, establish new headquarters and launch terrorist acts whether against the native countries they had fled or against the western communities which offered them safe haven. They detach themselves from their host communities and pronounce them apostate. Such a warning was recently sounded by former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair who said it was time to put an end to the activity of political Islamists whose extremist, fundamentalist practices posed a flagrant threat to the values and constants of the western communities which offered them safe haven. The Islamists, he said, reject peaceful integration with their host communities.
Now we come to the historic question: Is the West coming back to its senses? Is it possible for the US and western States to redirect their course and align their strategic interests with the dreams and ambitions of the peoples of our region—especially Egypt? Following 9/11, President George Bush said that for 60 years after World War II the US linked its strategic interests with despotic regimes in the Middle East, to the detriment of its peoples. Mr Bush said this was a mistake which should be rectified through looking to the benefits of the peoples who wish to fulfil their hopes of freedom and democracy. Sadly, the US did not do this. Instead, it aligned its interests with political Islam groups, topmost among which was the MB in Egypt. The Arab Spring revolutions turned to disastrous nightmares. But the miracle that stunned the US, the West, and the whole world was that Egypt rebelled, and the American plan was defeated through the strong will of the Egyptian people. The other Arab Spring revolutions which were usurped by political Islam will definitely walk the same way as Egypt.
Is the US aware of this? And will the West come back to its senses?
4 May 2014