Sunday, 18 August 2013

Western policy in Egypt has been worse than a crime; it has been a blunder.

The statesman Talleyrand said of an action of Napoleon's that “it was worse than a crime; it was a blunder.” The same is true of Western policy in Egypt.

As for the crime, millions of Muslim Brotherhood supporters, and those who oppose the Brotherhood but support democracy, view the West as having given tacit support to a coup and then compunded that by a muted response to massacres. As for the blunder, the West's actions risk creating a new generation of recruits to Al Qaeda.

The US and its allies, including the UK, have conspicuously failed to condemn last month's military coup (or even accept that it was a coup). Even after three well documented massacres of unarmed civilians, the US is still providing over a billion dollars annually to the army that carried out those massacres.

There was much to criticise in the Muslim Brotherhood's 12 months in government but no one has yet produced evidence of any actions that prove that they intended to cancel future elections or which could otherwise justify a coup. Throughout its time in office, the Brotherhood had to deal with constant opposition from the so-called “deep state”, a network of individuals from the Mubarak era in positions of influence.
Mohammed Morsi won the presidential election in 2012 by gaining most votes in the first round and then winning the second round run-off with 51.7% against his opponent who was Mubarak’s last prime-minister. He had as good a mandate as Barack Obama and a better one than David Cameron.

Morsi was not so long ago viewed relatively positively in the West. Time Magazine in 2012 put him forward for consideration as Time’s Person of 2012. They wrote: - “The Muslim Brotherhood's religiosity is moderate, or at least moderated by pragmatism; its politics are populist and likely the template for a number of other fledgling democracies in the region.” The Brotherhood never attempted to introduce anything like the radical Islamic program of Saudi Arabia - the West’s great ally and now the leading backer of the Egyptian military. 

It seems likely that Egypt will once again have a repressive dictator. Yet another such dictator put in place with Western backing, to replace a democratically elected leader, joining a shameful list including the likes of Mobutu and Pinochet.

How will the West hope now to persuade sceptical Muslims that it is sincere about “democracy” - a professed central aim of its successive wars against Muslims since 2001? Many will conclude that the West only likes democracy which produces regimes to its liking.

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