Egyptian Military Positions Itself as Guardia of U.S. Interests

February 3, 2011

The Egyptian military is an arm of the Pentagon. Receiving $1.3 billion per year in “aid” it is totally dependent upon, and has been moulded by the interests of American power. It is not an impartial arbiter or guardian of the Egyptian “revolution” (the 1952 variety, which quashed the British-backed monarchy). And it cannot be expected to intercede between pro- and anti-Mubarak protesters to usher in a new age of Egyptian democracy.

What it can be guaranteed to do, however, is to defend the strategic position of the United States and hence Israel, in the Middle East. As long, that is, as the people of Egypt do not press further and demand that their revolution become stridently anti-militarist. The military too, are part of the problem.

Yet it is becoming clearer that the Obama administration, while calling for immediate change, seeks to ensure that any such change is heavily mediated by the military. With the Egyptian government in turmoil, there are signs that Mubarak henchmen in other departments are blaming Washington for their troubles, but the army is what matters, not the Foreign Ministry and a script has been prepared which gives military leaders maximum scope to carve out a new power base.

As one “senior Defense official” in Washington puts it, “They [the military] are positioning themselves as the guardians of the Egyptian state — not the guardians of Mubarak’s rule.”

This is the plan. Although Mubarak and co. may be irredeemably tarnished by their tortures, massacres and corruption, somehow the military is to be elevated, as the guardian of U.S. interests. As a spokesperson for the top American military official Michael Mullen says, “Clearly it’s a very volatile, uncertain situation but the chairman would very much like the relationship we have with the Egyptian military to continue.” And as White House Chief of Staff William Daley puts it, the U.S.-Egyptian military relationship is “serving us quite well right now.” That would be despite signs that the army is facilitating the entry of squads of murderous pro-Mubarak goons into Tahrir Square.

However, any such plan does not seem to have been premeditated. Washington has been seeking to back Mubarak for as long as possible, and only in the past 24 hours has it been seen to backtrack significantly, with White House spokesman Robert Gibbs beginning to talk of demands for immediate change. Washington is not in control of this crisis, and is betting that long-standing ties with the Egyptian military will hold firm and that the lure of the $1.3 billion annual bribe will ensure their loyalty.

Washington will seek to propel the military option for as long as possible, hoping that protesters cannot force immediate democratic change. There is too much riding on the status quo for an alternative policy to be imagined. After all, between 2002 and 2009, Egypt bought a staggering $12 billion worth of arms from American firms.

 

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