April 28, 2014
Al-Akhbar English in an article titled, “Egypt: Free Egyptian Army being formed in Libya,” reported that:
Egyptian security forces continue to chase armed groups active in the country. The confrontation does not seem it will come to end soon, with the information unfolding daily to security agencies about plans by those group to destabilize Egypt.
Security sources revealed to Al-Akhbar that “intelligence and security agencies succeeded in monitoring the movements of terrorist groups and arrested some of them inside the towns and villages of northern Egypt, as well as the eastern, western, and southern borders of Egypt.”
The report would also claim that a “Free Egyptian Army” was being prepared in neighboring Libya along the Libyan-Egyptian border, where the epicenter of heavily armed sectarian extremists from Al Qaeda’s Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) began NATO-backed operations against the Libyan government in 2011. While the Al-Akhbar article only cites unnamed “sources,” recent and escalating violence lends credibility to concern regarding a Syrian-style conflict fueled by foreign interests to destabilize and overthrow the current Egyptian sociopolitical order.
The Syrian Connection
The recent violence spearheaded by supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, particularly his Muslim Brotherhood political party and its network of armed militant affiliates, is a cause of particular concern. It was the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria that began receiving cash and backing by the US, Saudi Arabia, and Israel as far back as 2007 in preparation for the ongoing armed conflict now raging across Syria for the past 3 years.
In Reuters ‘May 6, 2012 article titled, “Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood rise from the ashes,” it stated:
“Working quietly, the Brotherhood has been financing Free Syrian Army defectors based in Turkey and channeling money and supplies to Syria, reviving their base among small Sunni farmers and middle class Syrians, opposition sources say.”
The Muslim Brotherhood was nearing extinction in Syria before unrest began in 2011, and while Reuters categorically fails in its report to explain the “how” behind the Brotherhood’s resurrection, it was revealed in a 2007 New Yorker article titled, “The Redirection” by Seymour Hersh.
The Brotherhood was being directly backed by the US and Israel who were funneling support through the Saudis so as to not compromise the “credibility” of the so-called “Islamic” movement. Hersh revealed that members of the Lebanese Saad Hariri clique, then led by Fouad Siniora, had been the go-between for US planners and the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood.
Hersh reports the Lebanese Hariri faction had met Dick Cheney in Washington and relayed personally the importance of using the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria in any move against the ruling government:
“[Walid] Jumblatt then told me that he had met with Vice-President Cheney in Washington last fall to discuss, among other issues, the possibility of undermining Assad. He and his colleagues advised Cheney that, if the United States does try to move against Syria, members of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood would be “the ones to talk to,” Jumblatt said.”
The article would continue by explaining how already in 2007, US and Saudi backing had begun benefiting the Brotherhood:
“There is evidence that the Administration’s redirection strategy has already benefitted the Brotherhood. The Syrian National Salvation Front is a coalition of opposition groups whose principal members are a faction led by Abdul Halim Khaddam, a former Syrian Vice-President who defected in 2005, and the Brotherhood. A former high-ranking C.I.A. officer told me, “The Americans have provided both political and financial support. The Saudis are taking the lead with financial support, but there is American involvement.” He said that Khaddam, who now lives in Paris, was getting money from Saudi Arabia, with the knowledge of the White House. (In 2005, a delegation of the Front’s members met with officials from the National Security Council, according to press reports.) A former White House official told me that the Saudis had provided members of the Front with travel documents.
Jumblatt said he understood that the issue was a sensitive one for the White House. “I told Cheney that some people in the Arab world, mainly the Egyptians”—whose moderate Sunni leadership has been fighting the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood for decades—“won’t like it if the United States helps the Brotherhood. But if you don’t take on Syria we will be face to face in Lebanon with Hezbollah in a long fight, and one we might not win.”
Clearly then, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt which very vocally supported its Syrian counterparts, is benefiting from the same foreign backing that has devastated Syria, and stands poised to serve the same role the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood had played in 2011 in assembling, funding, and arming militant groups across Egypt via its well organized political machine.
While many pundits and analysts attempt to portray the Egyptian military as an obedient and reliable client regime for the West, nothing could be further from the truth. The West and its Arab collaborators are attempting to diminish and eventually destroy Iran and its arch of influence stretching from its borders with Afghanistan to the east, across Syria in the West and up to and including the Mediterranean coast in Lebanon. The Egyptian military may be willing to make incremental economic and political concessions with the West to keep substantial aid flowing into its coffers, but is not willing to jeopardize the stability of Egypt and its very survival by serving as part of a “sectarian front” to fight Iran on the West’s behalf (and here).
Rotten Carrot, Broken Stick
VICE Magazine reported in an article titled, “US Aid Returns to Egypt Amid Wave of Attacks,” that:
Two members of the Egyptian police force were killed in separate incidents today as opponents of the military-backed government continue a wave of attacks against security forces.
Brig. Gen. Ahmed Zaki died in Egypt’s Giza governate just west of Cairo after a bomb placed under his car exploded and critically wounded him when he was driving home, officials told AP.
Videos posted on YouTube showed the aftermath of the bombing, as well as the discovery of a mobile phone reportedly used to trigger the bomb.
Meanwhile, in Alexandria, Lt. Ahmed Saad died during a raid on a suspected militant base, the city’s chief Police Maj. Gen. Amin Ezzedin told the state-run Middle East News Agency.
These are the latest incidents in a wave of violence directed at military and police personnel since former President Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood were removed by the army in June. Attacks on security forces were, at first, concentrated around Egypt’s restive Sinai Peninsula, where a full-blown insurgency is raging, but have since spread elsewhere.
VICE would go on to report that military aid from the United States was eventually delivered after threats to cut it off after the ousting of Morsi by the Egyptian military. While VICE and other Western media outlets attempt to undermine the Egyptian military’s standing in the Arab World by suggesting the US is backing the new military-led government in Cairo, what this dual track policy represents in reality is military aid serving as the “carrot” while a NATO-backed Syrian-style terrorist campaign serves as the “stick.”
The ultimate goal is to position the Egyptian military in such a way that it can be gradually undermined and removed from its long-standing role in Egyptian politics, just as has been done in Turkey and just as is being attempted in Thailand through the US-backed regime of Thaksin Shinawatra.
In Egypt, the goal of installing a Muslim Brotherhood-led government and cultivating a culture of sectarian extremism, will expand the West’s ability to wage proxy wars beyond Egypt’s borders in nations like Lebanon, Syria, Iran, and eventually Russia’s Caucasus region and China’s western most provinces. It is also, however, a goal the current government in Cairo wants nothing to do with.
Taking the Carrot and Fighting Back Against the Stick
The geopolitical influence of the West is in visible decline. Its stumbling “victory” in Libya, its failure in Syria, and its multiplying complications in Ukraine not only are undermining its allies’ confidence in various partnerships and alliances, but has changed the dynamics with which the West’s enemies respond to its traditional “carrot and stick” approach.
“Military aid” in exchange for the Egyptian military’s abdication from politics and the radicalization, division, and destruction of Egypt’s existing sociopolitical order is a formula so unbalanced and lacking in incentives that it reeks of the West’s weakness. This ill-conceived formula, already failing elsewhere with vivid, cautionary examples for the government in Cairo to consider, failed before it even began on Egyptian soil.
Cairo’s decision to move decisively against the Muslim Brotherhood and its network of militant affiliates before widespread conflict began indicated that the government was no longer concerned about opinions in Washington, London, or Brussels, nor with the combined influence of their respective media machines. Failure to curb militancy in fear of global “public opinion” would only lead to a window of opportunity to sow the seeds of a destructive and protracted Syrian-style conflict – a conflict Cairo appears determined to prevent.
Evidence of a “Free Egyptian Army” forming in neighboring Libya may be lacking, but the precedent, motivation, and will for the West to be backing such a conspiracy certainly are not. Egypt’s decision to disregard the opinion of a now waning West serves as a model for other nations being offered similar “rotting carrots” and “broken sticks.” Egypt’s future now depends on the perseverance of its leaders in Cairo persecuting a preemptive campaign against the Syrian-style war the West is now more overtly hanging over Egypt’s future.