After the unprecedented numbers of Egyptians taking to the streets on June 30 , 2012, protesting against Morsi and asking him to step down and asking for early presidential elections, world media went overboard with their initial coverage. Even CNN called it a Guinness World Record for the number of people coming out in political protest. But it was not long before the American Administration and the MB scrambled to contain the effect and to begin putting a different spin on it. The stance decided upon between the American Administration and the MB was one of labeling it a military coup d’état and waving the stick of sanctions and stopping American military aid. All media outlets were given this official view, and all reported it religiously and with enthusiasm. Except for Fox News that stuck to its guns and kept reporting things as they really were on the ground in Egypt.
Where America goes, so follows Europe. This was the case. The sphere of influence was widening and all opinions were getting more and more negative about the new state in Egypt. Not only was public opinion mobilized against the fledgling Egyptian administration, but active steps were taken to disrupt the actual formation of an interim government. Al Nour the Salafi Part was the instrument used to try to stop the formation of the government with every means possible. So outside pressure and internal pressure were at their highest point. Yet the government was formed and a committee of ten constitutional experts set up to try to amend the 2012 (MB) Constitution as per the road map outlined by Al Sisy after Morsi’s removal and the swearing in of an interim president, the Head of the Supreme Court, Judge Adly Mansour.
From that date on the games were at their fiercest. The American Administration with all its weight, pressured countries all over the world to its point of view of what was happening in Egypt as a coup. The MB also played a very strong role in this instance. Their practically unlimited funds and their loyal people strategically placed, were utilized to the utmost. Qatar and Turkey, as well as Israel, of course, were all part of the front attacking Egypt at every turn. Not only did we have to contend with fifth columnists within Egypt, but we had the whole world coming down on our heads.
The government was trying to hold its own both internally and externally, while being constantly stabbed in the back by sleepers within it, or through outright violent acts by members of the MB and their terrorist allies like Hamas. Also the funds being dispersed to carry out such terrorist acts were being funneled though both Qatar and Turkey. The fight on our hands was very intense.
It is during those days that Al Sisy’s true metal became apparent. With all the noise made by the world that what had taken place was a coup by the military, he again stepped forward and asked the people, directly, for support and a mandate to fight future terrorism. He asked for this mandate in the form of the people again taking to the streets, in a couple of days. His PR group then set it up for all foreign news correspondents in Egypt to be taken up in army helicopters and given a tour of the country when nearly half the population of 85 million were out on the streets. Not only did these correspondents film the demonstrations, they were filmed by the army’s PR group while filming the demonstrations.
To counteract this very obvious popular response by the people to Al Sisy’s request, the MB took out a paid ad in a well known – half Qatari owned – newspaper, saying that these were demonstrations for the return of Morsi! Also the same was done with France 24 television channel – bought time. To anyone who is paying attention or following closely what was happening, this would have seemed ludicrous, but unfortunately a great many people take the news they are fed at face value, without question or thought.
Another effect that the popular surge of July 26 accomplished, was the total shock it left Israel in. That one man, by just a simple request can, within forty eight hours, mobilize half the population of Egypt, was a very rude awakening indeed. The fact that the people rose so promptly in response to the call of duty for Egypt, forced the Israelis as well as the Americans to pause, think and re-assess all the players on the field. Al Sisy was put under a microscope and everything about him that they knew of was investigated and analyzed. Even down to a paper he wrote while going through military training in the States. There was an attempt to put a spin on it that he was really an MB sleeper. But that, in the light of his actual actions, did not really make sense.
By that time America’s name was mud on the streets of Egypt and slogans against its president and its ambassador to Egypt showed a great deal of animosity. While this was happening, another element was introduced into the scene. Russia. While Obama’s picture was reviled and described as a supporter of the MB terrorists, Putin’s picture was put up along with Nasser’s as symbols of heroic freedom fighters. This again should have given pause to the American administration, but with the continuous drumming of the international MB organization, through their people strategically placed within the White House, the American foreign policy stuck to the same line.
Despite this adherence to a policy that was quickly starting to integrate because of the very obvious terrorist acts perpetrated by the MB within Sinai and in several urban spots in Egypt, yet a very slight split within the Obama Administration started appearing. A split between the White House and the President’s Security Advisor Susan Rice on the one hand, and the State Department, headed by John Kerry, and the Pentagon, on the other hand. This would later become more obvious and would reach unprecedented clashing statements by both entities.
In the meantime the world situation was slowly turning in favor of the change that took place in Egypt on June 30. The behavior of the MB was beginning to turn the people away from them in disgust. Their obvious lack of respect for human life and their flagrant utilization of women and children as dispensable “cannon fodder”, turned many an advocate for human rights and the “democratically elected President” against them in disgust. People the world over started listening to all the Egyptians in Egypt who were telling a totally different story of what these barbarians were really doing.
In the meantime Russia started moving towards a closer relationship with Egypt. Not only did Putin categorically refused to have the ‘Islamic influence’ infiltrate Russian society, he came out and said it very plainly in a speech to the Duma, which was highly publicized on social media, and very welcomed by all. Also secret negotiations were rumored to have begun about armament deals. While the US was ‘temporarily’ suspending its military aid to Egypt, the kingdoms of Arabia and the Gulf came out in full support of Egypt and its interim government. The first to openly give support was The King of Jordan who personally came for a lightning visit to show public support. Though the mighty PR machine of the MB tried to turn it into a negative, it did not work, the Egyptians were now more aware of these lies and were questioning a great deal of what was being said, even the sources of a lot of information were now being investigated and questioned.
While this was happening, a very brief announcement made by Al Sisy that the US was advised that from now onwards it will have to give a 14 day advance notice before any of its ships pass through the Suez Canal. This meant no preferential treatment for rights of passage. All these are the moves of the games played by nations. Their sphere of influence and what advantages they could get for themselves, politically and economically.
While this was going on in Egypt, the Syrian crisis was coming to a head, with the poison gas allegedly used by the Assad forces on his own people. Though the US tried to make a case of it within the UN and through world public opinion, again the interference of Russia put a stop to American threats, and the whole tempest in a teacup fizzled out.
Egyptian Russian relations were getting closer and finally it was announced that a 2 on 2 visit was to take place. This expression was explained to mean a very high delegation indeed headed by the two most important Ministers in both countries to meet together. These being the Ministers of Defense and of Foreign Affairs. The two Russian Ministers came on their announced high profile visit to Egypt in mid November. The result was talk of arms deals running in the billions.
Immediately after that visit came a lightning visit by John Kerry to Egypt, after which on the 18th November 2013 while addressing the State Departments’ Overseas Security Advisory Council he stated that the Egyptian revolution of 2011 started by tech-savvy young people with no ideological aims was “stolen” by Islamists from the Muslim Brotherhood who behaved autocratically after winning parliamentary and presidential elections.
Needless to say that this is scrambling by a professional diplomat to contain the damage caused by the Administration’s previous handling of the situation. Yet the White House and its Advisors seem to be still in opposition. It is interesting to watch this situation unfold and raises questions about the old game of “good cop/bad cop” being played by the US.
On the other hand, while many an Egyptian would like to see a closer relationship with Russia take root and cement, a balancing note, and a very pragmatic outlook is given by Al Sisy’s remarks that a nation’s relations with other nations are not built on changing situations.
So while there seems to be a renewed attention to Egypt’s position in the world, and an attempt by the different spheres of influence to attract Egypt to one camp or the other, it looks like we are now holding our own, with a balanced view of the world at large. An indication of Egypt’s return to its previous world standing is the fact that it was an Egyptian that was voted as the Head of UNESCO’s Executive Board.
Since writing this article, more development in this situation. An “agreement” was reached in talks between six countries headed by Iran and the US whereby Iran halts its nuclear enrichment process for the easing of sanctions against it. This will change the balance in the Middle East and will marginalize Turkey’s role in the region. Also relations between Turkey and Egypt have reached an all time low where Egypt recalled its Ambassador and declared Turkey’s Ambassador “persona non grata”.
Awaiting with bated breath for further developments and what the next moves of the game will be.