Political musical chairs, money, America and Egypt’s crisis

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A supporter of Egypt’s ousted President Mohammed Morsi holds a banner with Morsi’s image, during a march against Egyptian Defense Minister Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi in Nasr City, Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Aug. 2, 2013. (AP Photo/Manu Brabo)

 

by Jehron Muhammad

(FinalCall.com) – In a diplomatic move that displayed how fluid the developing situation in Egypt is, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns recently made the first senior level visit by a U.S. official since President Mohammed Morsi was overthrown by a widely disputed military coup.

Though Burns said he came with no “American solutions, nor did I come to lecture anyone,” he said. One wondered, well, why did he come?

With the U.S. honoring its annual $1.3 billion mainly in American made military hardware commitment to Egypt, it at least appears that U.S. corporate interests were satisfied. It also appears the U.S. is trying to play both ends against the middle. On the one hand you have President Obama calling for the release of the disposed Egyptian president and Burns sitting down for talks with army chief Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, his appointed President Adly Mansuour and caretaker Prime Minister Hazem al-Beblawi.

Giving the above much thought, Obama’s verbal discomfort with Morsi’s confinement was likely more ploy than unease. He had to know if his request was honored it would galvanize Morsi’s supporters and give substance to the illegality of his overthrow and subsequent confinement. Would a coup be grounds for disrupting the $1.5 billion in U.S. financial aid (America’s bargaining tool) to Egypt? Not likely, so perhaps Obama administration involvement is more like meddling than trying to produce good outcomes for the masses of Egyptians.

As if on cue Secretary of State John Kerry chimed in from Amman, giving a new twist to the U.S. non-position, claiming the need for time while the administration consults lawyers to get all the facts.

Then he pivoted and showed support for Morsi’s ouster, claiming the avoidance of a civil war “and enormous violence, and you now have a constitutional process proceeding forward very rapidly.”

And then there’s Burns waxing hypocritical uttering, “Only Egyptians can determine their future,” when for almost 30 years the U.S. publicly backed the autocratic regime of Hosni Mubarak.

There’s more. Sounding like Morsi, Burns offers support for “the adoption of reforms that can lead to an early ($4.5 billion) IMF agreement.” Notably missing in discussion of the bailout was fine print that included removal of subsidies on Egyptian goods, including gas, that sparked fear of massive fallout from the much subsidized Egyptian economy.

Tamarod, the movement that spearheaded the campaign against Morsi, according to Al Jazeera, outright rejected an invite to meet with Burns citing Washington’s “interference” in Egyptian affairs.

Islam Hammam, one of the group’s organizers, told AFP news service, “We rejected the invitation … because the United States did not stand with the Egyptian people from the beginning,”

The Muslim Brotherhood also criticized Burns’ visit. Spokesman Gehad El-Haddad, reported the Pan-African News Wire, said the U.S. had failed to “stand up for principles as they had done with ousted president Hosni Mubarak in 2011.”

El-Haddad tweeted the U.S. had sanctioned the “coup” against “Egypt’s first democratically elected president.” He also tweeted that the U.S. had given the “legitimacy” to the military coup by continuation of military aid.

Tarek Radwan, associate director for research at the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for Middle Eas0t based in Washington, D.C., said, “The military holds … the ultimate trump card, and they are the heaviest hitters in town.”

“Does that mean they want to be involved in the governing process? No,” he said. Sounds like the military doesn’t want to be king, they just want to be king makers.

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