Tag Archives: gentle coup

Was Egypt’s Gentle Coup an American Takeover?

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Gee … I can’t imagine what life under a dictator would be like (maybe Canada could do with a little regime change?), but I know this:  life under the military will likely be harder for Egyptians.

The “Walk Like an Egyptian” campaign staged by hundreds of thousands of people seems to be subsiding, but let’s repeat who’s in charge now:  The military.

In most circles, a transition of power from the leader (regardless of how he or she got there) is called a coup d’etat.  As defined by Wikipedia:

A coup d’etat is the sudden, extrajudicial deposition of a government, usually by a small group of the existing state establishment—typically the military — to replace the deposed government with another body; either civil or military. A coup d’état succeeds if the usurpers establish their dominance when the seated government fails to disallow their consolidation of power.

In the case of Egypt, I would call it a gentle coup.  The military waited and they seemed to get what they wanted.  Not to sound cold, but few people died in the transition and right now, it actually seems like a responsible host of military leaders will help Egypt emerge from dictatorship.

Or will they?

In Egypt, we need to know to whom the military is beholden.  Are they representatives of Egyptians or an extension of the American military?

Don’t forget that Egypt is America’s second largest recipient of financial and military support – after Israel.  That kind of funding has to generate some kind of internal connections.

Did the turnover in Egypt occur because Hosni Mubarak wasn’t buying billions in new hardware?  In December, Wikileaks showed that the US made repeated attempts to encourage Mubarak’s regime to upgrade their military.  Substantial investments didn’t occur, resulting in Council of Foreign Relations expert Steven Cook to say this:

The cables reveal a military deeply reluctant to take part in regional counterterrorism efforts, and the focus on weapons necessary for desert battle is a reflection of that.  The Egyptian military is not good at or interested in, quite frankly, projecting power. It is there to ensure the survival of the regime and protect the country’s borders.

Not to defend Mubarak, but shouldn’t that be the priority of any government?

We also see that Israel was worried about Egypt’s commitments in the Middle East:

Meanwhile, Israel remains worried about Egypt’s current appetite for weapons. A July 2009 cable from Tel Aviv paraphrased political military chief Amos Gilad as saying “the Egyptian military led by Defense Minister [Mohamed] Tantawi continues to train and exercise as if ‘Israel was its only enemy.’ He added that … [Egypt’s] peace with Israel ‘is too thin, too superficial.’ ”

Looking at this information, one can’t help but wonder what was behind the activities for the last three weeks.  Was it a a pissed off Egyptian populace or an even more irate US industrial-military machine that was no longer getting support in Egypt’s upper echelons?  If bills weren’t being paid and hardware wasn’t being upgraded, could this have provided enough of a spark to overthrow Mubarak?

Other issues are at stake here, particularly the Suez Canal and the Gaza Strip.  The Suez is the most important oil asset to Europe and Gaza represents some of the most important real estate for Israel.  What happens next with these two locations will also reveal clues to why things happened the way they did in Egypt.

To sum up, as the military takes control, who they report to – the US or Egypt – will tell the full story.  Big, gluttonous upgrades and changes in real estate ownership will be the first sign to everyone that this had nothing to do with the will of the people.