[This is a syndicated post from the blog: The Big Pharaoh.]
I have to admit I have been pondering over this whole NGOs saga for quiet some time. I just couldn’t reach a solid theory behind why our military rulers, or the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), decided to agitate the Americans in such a way. I cannot remember that it ever happened that foreign workers in Egypt were banned from leaving the country in such a manner. What is happening is quiet serious. Come on, the son of an Obama Administration member is hiding inside the US embassy!
After much thought, I think I reached a theory that my mind can accept. Still I do not presume that my theory constitutes the full truth.
Before I tell you my theory, we have to agree together on certain things. First, SCAF are in control of almost every institution in the country including the General Prosecutor. There was no way on earth our judiciary system would take such a move against American and German linked NGOs without at least tacit SCAF approval. Second, these pro democracy institutions are definitely a headache to whomever rules Egypt. They work on human rights issues and help nascent political parties. In fact, the investigators even reported that the Muslim Brotherhood’s own party had received funds from one of these NGOs. Ironically, the MB did not react after the NGOs were stormed last December. Bums comfortably parked on parliament seats, why would the MB speak against the persecution of the same institutions that supported them when Mubarak threw high profile MB leaders in military jails?
The third thing we have to agree upon is this: SCAF’s popularity has been underminded during the past months and the generals are under immense pressure from the street. They might still be enjoying the approval of a weary and revolution-tired population, but the anti-SCAF movement, especially among the middle class and university students, is growing. Last January 25th, we saw crowds that far exceeded any protest during the past year, including the 18 days of the revolution.
So, you’re under pressure from the revolutionary force, what do you do? You do exactly what Gamal Abdul Nasser did in 1954. You pick up a fight with the West, you portray yourself as if you’re standing to the US. Above all, you make it appear as if the country is being threatened from some sort of “foreign plan” aimed at dividing or conquering it. This is what SCAF are doing now to gain popularity and undermine the revolutionary force working against them.
The NGOs case has to been seen within the context of everything else that is happening. The news that they found maps inside one of the NGOs detailing a plan to “divide the country across religious lines.” SCAF’s Facebook Admin page that recently claimed the American University in Cairo students and faculty were behind a plan to “destroy the Egyptian state” through calling for civil disobedience. NGOs, maps, dividing Egypt, foreign money, American university, foreign hands, American threatening to cut aid. Connect these words and you have a perfect conspiracy to sell to the general public.
Now, can SCAF risk loosing the annual US1.3 billion in US aid they get? According to Robert Springborg, an expert on the Egyptian military at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif, yes they might be willing to loose the aid if that helped their sinking ship:
They’re trying to provoke [the severing of US aid], because they’re desperate and they want to present themselves as popular defenders of the nation. So what better way to do it?
It wouldn’t mean a thing to Egypt’s military were the aid to stop. A great bulk of that has gone into the procurement of weapons systems that have not been used, are not likely to be used, and that [Egyptian forces] haven’t been properly trained on.
The above poses a very important question: are the generals willing to forgo Abram tanks that are destined to rust in order to save their political future in Egypt. Or are they just going the extra mile with the belief that the US cannot go its own extra mile: cutting the aid. Days will tell.
Foreign Policy analysis that basically explains what I mentioned above.