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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

New York Times Editorial, "Crisis in Egypt": A Failed Attempt at Democracy, an Obama Foreign Policy Fiasco, and More Flatulence from the Times


Where to even begin?

In a New York Times article entitled "Ambassador Becomes Focus of Egyptians’ Mistrust of U.S." (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/04/world/middleeast/ambassador-becomes-focus-of-egyptians-mistrust-of-us.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0), Mark Landler writes of US ambassador to Egypt, Anne Patterson:

"Her image has been plastered on banners in Tahrir Square, crossed out with a blood-red X or distorted and smeared with insults. She is too cozy with Egypt's deposed president and the Muslim Brotherhood, the signs say, and should leave the country."

Although she is not to blame, Patterson is in danger, and she should leave the country post-haste. The US Department of State apparently has learned little from Ambassador Stevens's tragic death in Benghazi. But then US Secretary of State John Kerry is preoccupied with meaningless efforts at attempting to restart Palestinian/Israeli negotiations and is blind to the fires that are burning out of control elsewhere in the Middle East.

Okay, Patterson is not to blame. But then who is to blame? Jonathan Tobin provides an accurate assessment in a Commentary item entitled "The End of Obama's Brotherhood Crush" (http://www.commentarymagazine.com/2013/07/03/the-end-of-obamas-brotherhood-crush-egypt-morsi/#more-828567):

"It should be specified that events in Egypt could never be controlled from Washington. But the Obama administration bears a heavy share of the blame for a chain of decisions that first undermined an authoritarian ally in Mubarak and then paved the way for the rise of an equally authoritarian and far more hostile government led by Morsi and the Brotherhood. The identification of the United States with the Brotherhood over the last year was an unforced error on the part of Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her successor John Kerry. The willingness of the administration to buy into the myth that regimes like that of the Brotherhood and their increasingly despotic Islamic allies in Turkey are good allies made a mockery of American values as well as hindering its ability to protect U.S. interests."

Obama got too close to Morsi (he has also gotten too close to his dear Islamist friend Erdogan in Turkey), and the US will be paying the price for years to come.

In an editorial entitled "Crisis in Egypt" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/04/opinion/crisis-in-egypt.html), The New York Times writes:

"Despite his failings, and there were plenty, President Mohamed Morsi was Egypt’s first democratically elected leader, and his overthrow by the military on Wednesday was unquestionably a coup. It would be tragic if Egyptians allowed the 2011 revolution that overthrew the dictator Hosni Mubarak to end with this rejection of democracy."

Indeed, Morsi was the first democratically elected leader, but he did all in his power to impose the Muslim Brotherhood's radical Islamist ideology upon Egypt and brought Egypt to the brink of bankruptcy.

In an excellent USA Today piece entitled "Egypt's ailing economy is at the heart of the unrest" (http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2013/07/02/egypt-morsi-economy/2482971/), Oren Dorell writes:

"Egypt's economic disaster is a result of Morsi's preoccupation with establishing political control rather then fixing the poor economy, says Marina Ottaway, says Marina Ottaway, a Middle East analyst at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

'Economic issues have not been an issue,' Ottaway says. 'The issue has been who should be in control of the country.'

. . . .

With government debt rising, cash reserves melting away and unemployment and inflation on the rise, the regime's solution has been to seek more loans to cover expenses that include subsidies on food and fuel that help millions of Egyptians.

The government's debt to foreign and domestic debtors has grown from $30 billion before the revolution that ousted Hosni Mubarak in February 2011 to $40 billion now.

Foreign nations have propped up the regime with loans -- at least $3 billion each from Qatar and Saudi Arabia, $1 billion from Turkey, $2 billion from Libya – and the Egyptian public has bought government bonds. But the growing debt has failed to prevent the government from spending its cash reserves, which declined from $34 billion before the revolution to about $16 billion in May.

In a country of 80 million people, the cash crunch puts the government at risk of being unable to import enough food and gas for its populace, and machinery to maintain the electrical grid, [Georgetown Professor Paul] Sullivan says.

Debt payments have grown from $5 billion to $8 billion a year, while inflation is up from 3% before the revolution to 13% to 18% now, depending on the sector. The country, which should be a natural gas exporter, has had fuel shortages made worse by fuel subsidies that artificially drive up demand, while investment in new refining or production capacity has been non-existent."

As further observed by Matt Egan in a FoxBusiness article entitled "Lingering Crisis in Cairo Dims Egypt's Economic Outlook,"concerning the decimation of Egypt's critical tourism industry:

"Meanwhile, the political uncertainty threatens to weigh on Egypt’s crucial tourism sector, which accounts for about 11% of GDP and approximately 2.8 million jobs.

. . . .

According to a March 2013 report by the World Economic Forum, Egypt’s travel and tourism business already ranked behind dangerous countries like Pakistan, Yemen and Chad in terms of security and safety."

"World War Z"? No, I don't believe in zombies; however, Egypt without tourism has indeed become a walking corpse.

Of more interest is whether the military in Turkey will study events in Egypt and also ultimately act to overthrow an increasingly authoritarian regime in Ankara, as was done on more than one occasion in the past (see: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/06/12/us-turkey-protests-military-analysis-idUSBRE95B0XK20130612).

[Note that in today's Washington Post (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/post/obamas-claim-that-aid-to-egypt-was-based-on-adherence-to-democratic-procedures/2013/07/03/5568586e-e430-11e2-a11e-c2ea876a8f30_blog.html?hpid=z3), Glen Kessler awards three "Pinocchios" to "Obama’s claim that aid to Egypt was based on adherence to ‘democratic procedures’." Keep up the good work, Mr. President . . .]

4 comments:

  1. Some two weeks after "the revolution" some NPR/BBC journalist started her presentation with "After the successful revolution in Egypt .... A day and half later, when I finally stopped laughing, I asked a question: "And how does she know that the revolution was successful?"
    Well, two years later ...
    So, what do we have now? Summer? A new spring? And what will happen to Nobel? If I understand it correctly, the nation of Knut Hamsun gave it to Obama for promotion of Muslem Brotherhood. Will they take it back now or give him another chance?
    Why do I have a sense that the world is a crazy place? Obama's idiotic speech in Cairo, Nobel for it, Kerry and his idiotic going through motions, Obama's idiotic selection of people, etc.
    I was thinking that everything reminded me of something ... yes, the absurdity of what's going on reminds me of the former Soviet Union when IDEOLOGY trumped common sense and reality.
    We are in trouble, people. Madness, madness, madness is in the air.

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  2. Where to begin? Try 1919-1922. The world is still cursed with the British+French 'solution' to the break-up of the Ottoman Empire.


    Loose ends?:
    "Jun 20, 2013 - US Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson will be nominated to be the next Assistant Secretary of State for the Near Eastern Affairs"
    http://backchannel.al-monitor.com/index.php/2013/05/5211/anne-patterson-for-assistant-secretary-of-state-for-near-eastern-affairs/

    hmm, wonder if she is still getting that promotion, which requires Senate confirmation. (Robert Malley is supposed to become her deputy.)

    As usual, only Canada has anyone mentioning this is a real blow to the idea that the MB can govern.


    May this also become a problem for The Weiner/Abedin candidacy, although he is polling the worst with...Jewish voters, but candidate Liu already has the muslim vote nailed.

    heh.

    K2K

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  3. "Where to begin? Try 1919-1922. The world is still cursed with the British+French 'solution' to the break-up of the Ottoman Empire."

    K2K, Good point. Thought you might appreciate the video version of Post Ottoman Empire Middle East History in a nutshell:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2jdWMV4YpU

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  4. Thanks. Truthloader's video is simplistic, (he seems solely focussed on Iraq, when the real problems were Egypt and Saudis v Hashemites in 1919) but, always good to have a video reminder of the Sikes-Picot root of today's turmoil.

    My pet peeve for this week is that the Chechens are hijacking Circassian history.

    K2K

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