The Egyptian Mess
Posted on August 20, 2013
According to news reports, the Obama Administration is temporarily holding up military aid to Egypt, until it gets a better sense of who is ultimately going to win the struggle for the largest Arab country’s immortal soul.
I added in the second part of the sentence.
Most Americans, according to a new poll, thing we should stop sending aid to the Egyptian military. I bet you if you ask them if we should stop sending foreign aid to anybody, they would agree with that too.
Most Americans don’t want to us to send foreign aid to anybody. They also believe that if we just cut foreign aid and cut the salaries of Members of Congress, we can somehow balance the budget.
That’s why we don’t do polls to chart how we are going plot our foreign policy. Because most Americans have no clue what they are talking about.
Since 1976, we have aggressively funded the Egyptian military. We give them money so they can buy military hardware from our defense industry. It works well for both parties. They get some of the best equipment in the world and a lot of Americans keep their jobs making it.
It also helps build close ties between the two countries. Our military leaders and their military leaders are on a first name basis. They do a lot of stuff together. They work to hunt down Islamic extremists together. They do joint exercises. They work with the Israelis to secure the Sinai Desert. They keep the Suez Canal open.
The Egyptian military doesn’t always play by the Marquis of Queensberry Rules when it comes to Islamic terrorism. They play tough and they play to win.
And they don’t have much regard for the Muslim brotherhood.
When the Brotherhood won Egypt’s first open elections in a thousand years (or longer), it posed a strategic threat to our closest friends in that country. And it was only a matter of time before the brothers alienated the vast majority of the country, which then demanded that they step down.
The Muslim Brotherhood has tried to moderate its image from a radical terrorist group to a more rational governing body, kind of like Sinn Fein did in Northern Ireland. But it clearly couldn’t make that transition to quickly enough for our friends in the Egyptian military. Either that or they simply weren’t capable to becoming what they are not.
If you are in the Muslim Brotherhood, it is against your DNA to support Western style democracy. It is against your DNA to protect religious diversity. It is against your religion to live and let live
The brothers are not without their supporters.
The Prime Minister of Turkey is watching this all very, very carefully .
Mr. Erdogan is a friend of the Brotherhood, and he has no great love for the Turkish military. Like the Egyptian military, the Turks are very, very close allies of the American military. Like the Egyptians, the Turks do joint exercises with the Americans, share intelligence, and buy our military products.
The Turks are also a member of NATO, and like the Egyptian military, the Turkish military is the prime secularizing force within the country. It all started wit the father of Modern Turkey, Kemal Attaturk, who almost singlehandedly brought Turkey into the modern age. Attaturk was no fan of religious extremism, and his passion for secularism still burns bright in the Turkish military’s high command.
Mr. Erdogan simply doesn’t buy secularism, and he has tried to make Turkey more religious, more self-consciously Islamic. He is a fan of head scarves and Burkas, things that were banned in previous governments.
Since Erdogan’s election, we have tried to keep both sides happy in this simmering debate within Turkish society. And so far it has worked. But it doesn’t have to always work and if the civil war that is currently engulfing Egypt spreads to other countries – like Saudi Arabia, Jordan or Turkey – it could mean very bad things for our most important ally in the region, Israel.
We need to keep in mind who are friends are in this fight, and we need to be sure-footed as we step among the ruins of burned out buildings and democracies gone awry. We support democracies, yes, but democracies that value religious liberty and multiculturalism. If we can’t find that, we support our friends in the military, who give stability to the region, help us maintain peace with Israel, and most importantly, help us in our fight against global Islamic terrorism.
That’s why we should support our friends in the Egyptian military, now more than ever.