Monday, March 03, 2014

US-Russian Democracy in Egypt

The arrival in Egypt on the 19th February, 2014, of General Viktor Bondarev, the head of Russia's Air Force, so soon after Egypt's military dictator, the self-promoted Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, visited Russian President Vladimir Putin on the 13th February, and the warm welcomes and talk of military cooperation and arms negotiations worth $3 billion is no surprise. Russia has never made a serious pretence at democracy. America, on the other hand, claims that the furtherance of democracy in the world and enactment of the will of the people is its goal, and yet America also legitimises dictators and subverts the will of the people when it benefits it. As for America's stance on Egypt, neither the arrest and detention of a U.S. embassy employee, Ahmed Aleiba, nor the arrests and detention of American and European journalists, nor the arrest and detention of thousands of Egyptian children, nor even the brutal killings of unarmed protesters caused America serious concern. Despite the superficial commentaries of some people about a competition between Russia and America for influence in Egypt, Russia and America could hardly be so closely allied in support of the brutal military oppression of opposition to its rule, especially the Islamic opposition! Allah سبحانه وتعالى has warned us that the hatred revealed by our enemies is only a fraction of what they try to conceal:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَتَّخِذُوا بِطَانَةً مِنْ دُونِكُمْ لَا يَأْلُونَكُمْ خَبَالًا وَدُّوا مَا عَنِتُّمْ قَدْ بَدَتِ الْبَغْضَاءُ مِنْ أَفْوَاهِهِمْ وَمَا تُخْفِي صُدُورُهُمْ أَكْبَرُ ۚ قَدْ بَيَّنَّا لَكُمُ الْآيَاتِ ۖ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ تَعْقِلُونَ
"O you who believe! Do not take any outside yourselves as intimates. They will do anything to harm you. They love what causes you distress. Hatred has appeared out of their mouths, but what their breasts hide is far worse. We have made the Signs clear to you if you use your intellect."
(Ali-Imran: 118)
Amazingly, Egypt's military was "restoring democracy" seven months ago, according to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at the time, and hence, America's massive financial assistance to the Field Marshal continues despite the technicality that "restoring democracy" occurred through an undemocratic, and very bloody, military coup against a democratically elected government. While America has criticised some actions of the military dictatorship, its legitimacy has not been criticised. This is despite the fact that many of America's political commentators have highlighted the contradiction inherent in American support for the Egyptian army's coup. On January 13th, the New York based Human Rights Watch (HRW) complained about the arrest of those opposing the army's will for a 'yes' vote in the next day's constitutional referendum: "Egyptian citizens should be free to vote for or against the new constitution, not fear arrest for simply campaigning for a 'no' vote". The next day, the Washington Post ran an opinion piece entitled: "Egypt's bogus democracy doesn't deserve U.S. aid".
The Brookings Institute and The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace have each posted numerous opinion pieces from their 'fellows' and 'associates' highlighting the anti-democratic reality of Egypt's military government, but they also pointed out that the main concern is not human rights or democracy itself, but rather that if the Egyptian Army does not succeed in controlling the country, "Islamist extremism" will be fuelled, and by noting that "what is going on in Egypt now is very popular among Egyptians" some kind of democratic legitimacy is offered to a military institution that is not democratic in any sense of the word.
There is a severe confusion that has never been resolved by Western political philosophers regarding the fundamental nature of democracy. Today's political writers in America have been left to bounce between a trinity of incompatible views about what the core of democracy is. Some say it is about free and fair elections that represent the will of the people, but others note that this frequently contradicts with democratic values and it is personal freedom and human rights that are most fundamental, and more recently the issue of 'civil society' and strong institutions as the key to democracy has become popular. This latter view is the view of the Gatestone Institute.
On 28th January the Gatestone Institute published an article entitled: "Egypt: Are Elections "Democracy"?", which criticised other views about democracy as follows: "From reading the American press, you would believe that if Middle Eastern Muslims were allowed to govern themselves by having free elections, this would be the route to democracy. This is a fallacy". They argued that opinion polls showed that Muslims in Egypt and throughout the Middle East overwhelming preferred Islam to Democracy. Their conclusion was: "If there is ever to be anything approximating democratic transformation in Egypt the only way it is going it happen is if Egypt has a respected institution, such as the military, that governs the country".
The Gatestone view places Egypt's vicious military dictatorship at the head of democratic institutions even though it stands against the will of the people, because the will of the people is for Islam. In this also, both Russia and America are in complete agreement. While Russia is forming historic new military ties with Egypt's anti-Islamic military leadership, it is the money of America's allies, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, that will be funding Egypt's purchase of Russian weapons, and this same money has flooded into Egypt since the start of military coup. America made token gestures by cutting back on the delivery of some of its weapons to the army and Russia has now come to assist America in its dirty conspiracy against Egypt and its people.
It is clear that America and Egypt are still hand in hand, and that Russia and America are in partnership over Egypt, as they are over Syria, which for them is a single issue: maintaining control of a region where the will of the people for Islam terrifies them both. Fear and hatred of Islam unites them, while the American media and political think tanks endlessly argue what the democracy they want to impose by force upon the world actually stands for. They do not know what democracy is, but they do know that they want to give democracy to us; whether we like it or not, by any means possible and without regard for the civil liberties of Muslims. In the light of such ideological ambiguity, it is not surprising that the Gatestone Institute was not optimistic about a speedy success for democracy in Egypt: "This is the work of a generation or more". The billions of American backed dollars being negotiated to support the Egyptian military with Russian technology is not the beginning nor the end of the spending against Islam, but in the end it will fail and Islam will prevail.
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا يُنْفِقُونَ أَمْوَالَهُمْ لِيَصُدُّوا عَنْ سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ ۚ فَسَيُنْفِقُونَهَا ثُمَّ تَكُونُ عَلَيْهِمْ حَسْرَةً ثُمَّ يُغْلَبُونَ ۗ وَالَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا إِلَىٰ جَهَنَّمَ يُحْشَرُونَ
"Those who disbelieve spend their wealth barring access to the Way of Allah. They will spend it; then they will regret it; then they will be overthrown. Those who are disbelievers will be gathered into Hell."
(Al-Anfaal, 8:36)
Written for the Central Media Office of Hizb ut Tahrir by
Dr. Abdullah Robin

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