Voltaire Network

Imperial Democracy

The "Arab" Spring has so far mainly consisted in replacing secular pro-Western regimes with Sunni pro-Western governments, paving the way for a broad regional Sunni-Shiite confrontation. But the high risk of loss of control inherent in such a project not being to everybody’s liking in the West, the White House has undertaken some readjustments, as recently in Egypt. The military are rational interlocutors with whom one can always reach an agreement while it is sometimes difficult to know exactly what agenda drives religious leaders.

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The day after the dissolution of the Egyptian parliament by the Constitutional Court, following a de facto order from the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), the US Department of State entered the lists, guaranteeing the Council’s commitment to transferring power to the elected president by the 1st of July. Washington also assured that it had remained in close contact with the SCAF during the whole duration of the “democratic transition” in Egypt.

Indeed, three months ago the Obama Administration decided to resume funding for the Egyptian armed forces previously suspended by Congress when some employees of U.S. “non-governmental” organizations were arrested on charges of having secretly financed, with millions of dollars, various Egyptian groups in the framework of “training programs for democracy.” Upon their release, Washington unfroze the annual military aid: $ 1.3 billion which had been deposited on a joint signature bank account, plus an additional amount of $ 250 million for economic and political programs and another hefty sum for covert programmes.

We saw the outcome. Emboldened by Washington’s support, the SCAF ordered the repeal of a law, passed by Parliament in May, barring senior officials from former President Hosni Mubarak’s regime from standing for office. This enabled the army to present a candidate for the presidential elections, General Ahmed Shafik, who was appointed by Mubarak as Prime Minister shortly before being ousted. Furthermore, in the midst of the elections and after having dissolved the parliament, the SCAF promulgated an “interim constitution” that further strengthens its powers, pending the final document to be drawn up by a commission composed of one hundred members appointed by the Council itself.

Thus, even if Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood were to win the presidency, power will still remain in the hands of the SCAF, the US-funded and armed military caste that was the real power behind the Mubarak regime. This same military elite was presented by president Obama as the guarantor of an “orderly and peaceful transition” when Mubarak was overthrown, after having served the interests of the U.S. for thirty years.

While denouncing “violations of democracy” in Syria and Iran, the United States is exporting its “democratic model” to other countries in Northern Africa and the Middle East. In Yemen, as officially admitted by president Obama, U.S. military forces are carrying out direct operations. Officially against Al Qaeda, in reality they target the popular rebellion. In addition, through Saudi Arabia and Great Britain, Washington is arming the Yemenite regime that is about to receive military equipment worth $ 3.3 billion. The same is happening with the monarchy of Bahrain which, after having fiercely crushed the popular struggle for fundamental democratic rights (with the help of Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar), it imprisoned and tortured around twenty doctors accusing them of helping insurgents while treating the wounded.

Considering that the government of Bahrain must “resolve serious human rights issues”, Washington has announced new arms deliveries that will be used to suffocate the fight for democracy.

Translated by Stefano Salustri.

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