Saturday, July 27, 2013

Obama Administration Thinks Egypt is a "Stabalizing Force"

Bloomberg, yesterday, ran an article with the headline Egyptian Crackdown on Mursi Supporters Leaves Dozens Dead.  Buried at the end of the article is this lovely bit of absurdity:

President Barack Obama’s administration, in a move that may protect U.S. aid to Egypt, has concluded that it doesn’t have to make a formal determination on whether Mursi’s ouster was a coup, a State Department official said.

Making such a determination, which potentially would have required cutting off aid, wouldn’t be in the U.S. national interest, State Department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki said yesterday. Egypt is a stabilizing force in the region, and it’s to the U.S.’s advantage to continue providing aid, she said. [emphasis added]
We'll get to that bit about whether or not there was a coup in a moment, but first take a moment to savour the supreme absurdity of claiming that Egypt is a stabilizing force.  Coming at the end of an article documenting the state of chaos in Egypt (with violent protests and counter-protests going on across the country, besides the military and police violence highlighted in the headline) that claim can only strike the reader as bizarre. 

What Ms. Psaki is actually trying to say (though political correctness restrains her) is that the U.S. wants to make sure that it maintains a strong military presence in the country (and the region), which it does by funding the Egyptian military.  Which is why Obama directed the State Department to figure out a way to keep that funding flowing, despite the fact of a coup having taken place which, legally, should cause all aid to be suspended.  Or, as Bloomberg puts it:
Obama had asked U.S. agencies on July 3 to review whether Mursi’s removal required halting about $1.5 billion in U.S. aid, of which $1.3 billion is military assistance. A U.S. law requires the denial of “any assistance to the government of any country whose duly elected head of government is deposed by a military coup d’etat or decree,” or a coup “in which the military plays a decisive role.”

“Our national security interests influence our policy as it relates to aid with Egypt,” Psaki told reporters at a State Department briefing. “We reviewed the legal obligations and determined we did not need to make a determination one way or the other.”
One might point out that a year ago, Mr. Obama clearly recognized the legitimate character of the Mursi government.  As the Washington Times reported at the time:
The White House congratulated Islamist candidate Mohammed Morsi on his election as Egypt’s first freely elected president, calling it a milestone in the country’s transition to democracy.
 This would seem to indicate that Mr. Mursi was indeed a "duly elected head of government" who has been "deposed by a military coup d'etat."  According to U.S. law, all aid to the country should now cease.  But as pointed out above, Mr. Obama doesn't want to lose his army buddies in the Middle East, so some way had to be found to get around U.S. law. 

So, rather than come to the obvious conclusion that a coup had taken place, the State Dept. discovered that, according to the letter of the law, they could just ignore reality by not declaring the takeover a coup...but not declaring it not-a-coup either.  How clever!  And how incredibly see-thru.

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