Wednesday, 21 August 2013


On August 20, 2013, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan insisted that he has evidence Israel was behind the military coup that ousted Egypt's first democratically elected president Mohammed Morsi and unleashed the de facto civil war of the last two months. It is no secret that Erdogan has been faced with domestic opposition from secularist (Kemalist) elements concentrated mainly in urban centers and mostly in the Western parts of Turkey. Perhaps he lashed out at Israel to prove a wider conspiracy against Islamist politicians like Erdogan. Perhaps he was simply trying to use the opportunity to unify his own popular base and to let the Mulsim world know that the enemy is still Israel and the West supporting Tel Aviv. 
It is also possible he was sending a message to the domestic elites, everyone from businesspeople to the armed forces and street protesters that there is a conspiracy rooted in Israel, backed by the West, to keep the Middle East weak and divided. Therefore, this is no time for questioning legitimately-elected authority. Whatever, the Prime Minister's motives, he certainly attracted the attention of Washington, the "mother protector of Israel". Naturally, Washington could admit that Erdogan was correct, nor could it say that its own policy, one from backing both Turkish and Egyptian protesters contributed to destabilizing the duly-elected regimes. The only response of the US was that Erdogan is wrong to accuse Israel of a conspiracy. 

Does Turkey have any evidence? The evidence is a recorded meeting in France between Israeli Justice minister and a French scholar where it was said before Egypt's 2011 elections that even if the Muslim Brothers win the ballot box, there can be no government, because democracy is more than just elections. That is the extent of the evidence Erdogan presented, unless of course the Russians or other intelligence services have provided him with more evidence he has not disclosed in order not to compromise his sources. It is literally impossible to determine by the very thin evidence Erdogan has disclosed to the press whether Israel is behind the military coup in Egypt. My reading of events tells me that we need to follow the current financial and diplomatic support of the Egyptian armed forces to see who is for and who is against the military dictatorship.

The US, EU and the conservative Arab states, led by the Saudi regime, all backed the anti-Morsi movement and the armed forces that staged the coup amid the protests. When the situation was becoming out of control and people were killed on both sides, the US as well as EU had to come out6 publicly and advise restraint on the parts of all parties. At the same time, they had to threaten that they would cut off aid. However, this is for public consumption only. The reality is that the US and EU did not want Morsi and prefer the military dictatorship that they can count on to remain in the Western camp in exchange for aid. Erdogan knows that foreign aid is behind the Egyptian armed forces, so he asked why is it that $16 billion has been pledged to the military dictatorship in just a few days, but nothing comparable to the Morsi government in the last eighteen months. Moreover, Tel Aviv made the mistake to declare publicly its support for the Egyptian military and to urge EU and US to back the dictatorship of the armed forces, thus raising suspicions among the already "conspiracy-minded" Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Naturally, Tel Aviv made a dreadful mistake even commenting on the Egyptian situation, but I suppose the right-wing government could not contain its enthusiasm.

Even with hard evidence that Tel Aviv was behind the coup, it really does not matter. The bottom line is to follow the money, and that has a trail leading right back to the same suspects that want a military dictatorship allied to the West and to Israel. The situation becomes even more complicated because the US government has been following a public diplomacy that is not the same as the private one, something a number of administration critics, including Sen. John McCain pointed out. After all is said and done, it seems to me that while the CIA coup of 1953 was very plausible, the military coup of Morsi is much more complicated, and it could not possibly have taken place without mass public opposition to Morsi.

That some secularist anti-Morsi politicians initially backed  the military, but then backed out is an indication that they too want to  distance themselves from the military dictatorship enjoying the support of reactionary Arab states, Israel, the US and EU. Regardless of the public statements by the EU and US about permitting peaceful protests and demonstrations to take place, in the end the West will only support a pro-West regime not very different from the Mubarak one that was overthrown during Arab Spring. Ultimately, responsibility for the political turmoil in Egypt rests inside the country, no matter the external forces pulling from different directions so they can serve their own agenda.

While Erdogan is right that the conservative Arab states and the West did not help Morsi, and actually undermined his regime by refusing massive aid so it can stabilize, long-term solutions still rest inside Egypt. I had written during the Arab Spring uprising that Egypt will not see systemic changes because of internal resistance to change but also because the US and EU can only support a regime that can serve their military and economic interests. I hope to be proved wrong, but this is where we are today and this is where we will be in the near future.The lesson from all of this is the blatant hypocrisy of the West that continues to insist it supports freedom and democracy, even if it means direct military intervention to impose a pro-West regime at gunpoint, or if it means backing a military force that imposes the same at gunpoint. Long live Western democracy!

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