Tuesday, 1 February 2011


Egyptian Uprising Must Address U.S Interference and the Role of Israel in the Region
by Ghada Chehade
Global Research, January 31, 2011

As an analyst and observer of the recent rebellions in the Middle East,
specifically Egypt, I want to make three developing observations. First, the
Egyptian people cannot confront local despots and "regime change" without
addressing the patron of Mubarak's regime--The United States. Second, because of
the U.S' influence and because Egypt is so strategically important to the
U.S-Israel agenda for the Middle East, the U.S will attempt to control their
investments and their interests by regaining control and maintaining patronage.
In other words it will attempt (or may have already attempted) to co-opt the
public uprising and manage it at some level and continue to do so. Last, in
order to adequately address foreign meddlers within the context of the local
region and its politics, one must also eventually address the role of Israel.

Local Revolution must Condemn Western Influence:

The images coming from the streets of Egypt bring a glimmer of hope to all in
the Middle East as well as to anyone around the world who is serious about
justice. Yet as I watch these images (as a Palestinian-Egyptian from the west)
there is one thing that is alarmingly and frustratingly absent—cries of popular
condemnation of and rebellion against the U.S' influence and role in Egypt.
There are denunciations of the puppet—Mubarak—but not of those who pull his
strings. Any uprising against Mubarak that does not also confront foreign
meddling is ultimately flawed and shortsighted. Revolutions against Arab despots
must also address these dictators' western over-lords and the latter's ongoing
colonial/imperial agenda for the region.

An Egyptian uprising that does not simultaneously confront imperialism and the
heavy hands of the U.S and Israel is ultimately vulnerable to co-option and
micro-management. Any new government (even if it succeeds in resolving the
domestic issues of corruption, unemployment and food prices) that continues to
receive 1.5 billion dollars in "aid" (i.e. bribery) will be a mere continuation
of the Middle Eastern Banana Republic that Egypt is and has been for more than
thirty years. It should be noted that the principal recipient of aid in Egypt is
the Egyptian military and the vast internal security apparatus (with whom it
shares the same branch of government). Consequently the role of the military
and the security apparatus—whose patronage cannot allow them to be neutral and
therefore genuinely stand with the people—is something that the protesters will
inevitability have to contend with when addressing any reforms that may affect
the issue of "security."

U.S Attempting to Co-opt and Manage Egyptian Uprising

The lack of Egyptian condemnation of the U.S and its influence in Egypt may lead
to speculations that the U.S is behind these uprisings. The United States has
indeed been co-opting and courting Egyptian protest groups (especially youth
dissidents) in an effort to work both sides within Egypt [1]. Chossudovsky aptly
describes the U.S' political double-speech as chatting with dictators while they
mingle with dissidents [Ibid]. While I agree with much of the analysis I diverge
on the issue of whether or not the current popular uprisings in Egypt are being
directed by the U.S. Though the U.S has co-opted many opposition groups, what we
are witnessing currently on the streets of Egypt is far-vaster in scale than a
few meetings with Egyptian youth activists in Washington. I believe that even
though the U.S administration has been attempting to appropriate certain
opposition elements in Egypt (something it often does in client states), the
current popular uprising took even them by surprise.

Moreover, Egypt's neighbour and the US' biggest ally and recipient of aid in the
region, Israel, seems to be officially holding its tongue, clearly indicating
that it is not pleased with this moment. In a recent Haaretz article Israeli
media admits that Western and Israeli intelligence did not foresee a change of
this scope. While Israeli and U.S intelligence did "predict" possible civil
unrest and/or regime change in the Middle East (namely Egypt and Saudi Arabia),
"a popular uprising like this was completely unexpected" [2]. In another Haaretz
article it is maintained that the new IDF intelligence chief failed to predict
the current popular uprising in Egypt [3]. If the Israelis (the eyes and ears of
the U.S in the region) are admitting this then by extension, the U.S must also
have failed to anticipate the scope of what is now developing into a
full-fledged revolution. Gideon Levy, writing in Haaretz even applauds the
Egyptian uprising:

"The masses of the Egyptian people- please note: on all levels- took their fate
in their hands. There is something impressive and cheering in that." [4]

While it may not have anticipated or orchestrated the current uprising, what the
U.S is now attempting to do is to ultimately be able to control what is
happening presently. As the "day of anger" spread into many days of wrath
without any indication of dying down, the U.S has shifted its official stance on
the uprisings and is increasingly and deceptively trying to present itself as a
friend and ally of the protesters. Again, while they are not behind the
uprising, there is a clear indication that the U.S seeks to appear supportive of
the people in order to deflect criticism of its own role in the country and
region and to position itself in order to co-opt and appropriate (typically
meaning to threaten and/or bribe) any incoming or opposition government.

That the U.S is trying to cozy-up to the popular uprising and control it after
the fact is evidenced in their repeated insistence on the restoration of social
networking as a "right" after Mubarak disabled Internet capabilities [5]. Had a
U.S- led campaign using online services like facebook and twitter been the
catalyst for the uprising, then one might have expected the revolution to
diminish as a result of Mubarak shutting down Internet and cell phone service;
no such diminution occurred. Moreover, repeated cries from the highest levels of
the U.S administration (including Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama) that in
addition to the fundamental rights of democracy and free speech, Egyptians
should have the "basic right to use social media" [6] (since when did Internet
social networking become a basic human right?!), suggests that the U.S is eager
to get ahead of the curve and control the uprising, using the Internet as one
possible tool.

To demonstrate how much the U.S has depended on the Internet and social
networking sites to co-opt opposition in Egypt, one should note that U.S
officials have met in the past with dissidents from the April 6 Movement [7] (a
youth opposition movement in Egypt that interesting exists mainly online through
facebook). This notwithstanding, to reiterate my earlier point, the current
uprisings are far vaster than anything the U.S may have been attempting to steer
in the past, and have continued despite the shutdown of the Internet and the
loss of social networking sites as an "organizing medium."

In another, more obvious attempt at control, a "secret US file" relating to the
aforementioned youth dissident group was leaked (most likely by the US
administration). The document discloses U.S "support for Egypt protests" [8].
Clearly, in an effort to appear sympathetic to the authentic Egyptian uprising,
the U.S is now shamelessly admitting that it has in the past attempted to co-opt
youth dissidents, thus showing its hand at playing both sides in Egypt. In
reality this self-leaked "secret document" does not show any authentic U.S
support for Egyptian protesters and opposition as much as it proves that they
have been infiltrating and co-opting social movements and activists in Egypt,
specifically via Internet social networking sites.

In the most recent and brazen attempt to spin the U.S as the ally and anchor of
the revolution, mainstream media in the west are openly declaring that the US
has been secretly backing the leaders of the Egyptian uprising all along [9].
Such mainstream media framing serves to solidify the U.S as a supposed ally of
the revolution while also deflecting much-needed criticism of U.S foreign policy
and interference in Egypt and the Middle East. These narratives are intended
more for western audiences and one hopes that Egyptians will not fall for this
manipulative spin, damage control and blatant attempts at co-option.

Addressing the role of Israel in the Region

One cannot say enough about the special nature of the relationship (at all
levels) between the State of Israel and the existing regime in Egypt. U.S aid
and influence serve to ensure and solidify this warped relationship (after all
the U.S funds the military budget of both nations). U.S aid to Egypt and control
of the current regime is intended to support Israel and Israeli regional policy.
U.S foreign policy in the region is contradictory at best. While the U.S claims
to prefer secular regimes in the Middle East, it opposes or opposed the two main
secular regimes of Syria and Iraq under Saddam Hussein [10]. And while it
supposedly promotes democracy in the region, it is close friends and allies with
Saudi Arabia and Egypt while shunning democratically elected Hamas [11], and the
democratic process in Lebanon. As Gilad Atzmon succinctly and aptly explains,

"American policy seems to be a total mess -- unless one is willing to openly
admit that there is a clear coherent thread running through American foreign
policy: it simply serves Israel's interests." [12]

In this respect we cannot critically address the U.S without also addressing
those whose interests it serves—Israel. And as a puppet of the U.S
administration, the Egyptian state has played a "special" role in protecting
Israeli interests. These include signing a peace treaty with Israel, maintaining
an Israeli security perimeter on its borders, constant intelligence leading to
the bombing of supply tunnels, and closing the borders to Gaza.

Yet it is obvious that the Egyptian people have never been happy with their
government's relationship with Israel. Israeli journalist Gideon Levy correctly
points out that one thing all opposition groups in Egypt share is a disdain for
Israel. Levy even seems to admit that such disdain is justified given Israel's
illegal actions against the Palestinian people:

"As long the masses in Egypt and in the entire Arab world continue seeing the
images of tyranny and violence from the occupied territories, Israel will not be
able to be accepted, even if it is acceptable to a few regimes" [13].

Clearly, necessary criticism of Israel already exists within the Egyptian
opposition, and it seems that the Israeli media is well aware of these
sentiments. Mainstream North American media, on the other hand, are reluctant to
link anything happening in Egypt with foreign policy concerning Israel and
Egyptian sentiment around it. But let us hope that as the Egyptian revolution
continues the Egyptian people and opposition will loudly articulate an
anti-Israeli stance and long-term agenda. There will be more to say about this
as the situation develops.


Overall, it is apparent that the U.S is (unsuccessfully) attempting to control
and manage the uprising in Egypt—especially among the youth. Its schizophrenic
shift in its official stance on the uprising (first condemning it, then
supporting it, then going as far as to leak its own "secret" documents in an
effort to suggest that it has been behind the uprising all along) suggests that
they did not orchestrate the uprising but are currently scrambling to try and
contain and control it in a manner that will allow them to once again pull the
strings of whomever rules the country. Lets hope that the Egyptian people and
their revolution are able to resist such brazen efforts. In order for them to do
so they must extend their revolt to include a critical reassessment of their
relationship with the U.S—and the Israeli interests it serves—and its foreign
meddling in and control of Egypt and the region. This implicitly entails
(finally) confronting the problem of the Zionist regime--Israel.


I want to end by making a couple of predictions regarding what to look for in
terms of the U.S' response to the revolts and its relationship with Egypt [14]:

The US will further attempt to manipulate the revolution and
position itself to control/threaten/bribe the new government, mainly by gaining
the trust of the people vis-a-vis the military (note that mainstream media have
already begun to praise the military as a "friend of the revolution")

The US will protect Israel's interests (directly or indirectly) by
attempting to display a consistent bi-partisanship about Egypt within the US
government. This bi-partisanship will have "security" as their main concern,
employing double-speak in reference to "Egyptian security," which is actually
code for Israel's security. Bi-partisan committees with a rainbow of
representation will likely emerge in the coming days and weeks (look for AIPAC
to instruct these committees as to how to proceed).

Israel may (much further down the road) attempt to make a bid for
the Sinai. Since the U.S patronage of Egypt has been in the service of Israel,
the ways in which it will attempt to control and co-opt any new or resultant
government will also surely be in the service of Israel. Part of this service
may entail helping to try and create a situation or conflict (i.e. a security or
"terrorist" crisis on Israel's southern borders, probably relating to Gaza) that
would allow or "force" Israel to re-occupy the Sinai. Look for this to take
shape over a span of the next couple years. Israeli media is already discussing
IDF reformulations for its southern border.

Ghada Chehade is an independent political analyst, PhD Candidate, poet, and
activist living in Montreal.


[1] Michel Chossudovsky





[6] Ibid.





[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.


[14] Special thanks to Silvestre Lilly for helping me to flesh out these ideas.

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