Egypt: Three Reasons Why U.S. Can't Make it Better
…and in fact, of course, have made it worse, as Rand Paul has justly pointed out while upbraiding his fellow senators for refusing to halt aid to Egypt.
Financial Times sums up three reasons that no matter how chaotic, violent, and awful their behavior is, Egypt's military has good reason to know it doesn't have to worry much:
1) US leverage on Egypt's army is more apparent than real
Ever since Egypt made peace with Israel in 1979, its army has been in receipt of an annual US stipend of $1.3bn (in addition to lesser civilian grants). Whoever has been in power in Washington, and whatever the state of relations with Cairo, this military aid has been sacrosanct, with solid bipartisan support for what is universally seen as a terrific investment….
And what have the generals seen the US do since July 3? Refuse to call a coup a coup; hold up the delivery of four F-16 jets; and (maybe*) cancel a planned joint military exercise – amounting to a rap on two knuckles. There is no real reason why they should listen to this tut-tutting.
2) Sisi has the support of Saudi Arabia and (most of) the Gulf
The army's restoration of the security state has the enthusiastic backing of Saudi Arabia and its absolute monarchist allies in the Gulf, who can breathe a lot easier now that: the democratic potential of the so-called Arab Spring looks as if it is beginning to dissipate; and Gen Sisi and his colleagues are trashing the rival brand of Islam they most fear, the Brotherhood's. Within hours of the coup, Gulf potentates led by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia – a country that usually takes a long time to react if it does at all – greeted the military takeover with indecent haste. Within a day Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait had stumped up $12bn for the new order. This is nearly ten times the American military rent, and outstrips even the largesse Qatar and Turkey had lavished on the Brotherhood. The generals will understandably feel there is more where that came from.
3) Military populism is popular again in Egypt
Gen Sisi's behaviour since the coup makes plain he senses a wave of popular support for the army – and maybe the call of history anointing him as the new Gamal Abdel Nasser, still a nationalist icon in Egypt….
Sisi will also have seen opinion polls highlighting the popularity of the army as an institution – which will have influenced his careful patriotic choreography of the coup.
In particular, he or his aides will have noticed the Zogby Research Services polls, conducted before and after the coup, showing respectively 94 and 93 per cent support among Egyptians for the army – with no political faction convincing even a third of Egyptians..