A Red Flag?

Suddenly there is news and talk about ISIS and Egypt.

And Egypt’s dictator has come to Washington to bend knee at the little feet of power. Coincidence?

Sisi’s the last man standing after Egypt attempted to establish an un-approved islamic government. It seems like a virtual certainty that, since the briefly-standing islamic government was disempowered (but had a brief run at power) was a sunni movement (so is ISIS) there are likely to be violent political extremists abounding for recruitment. I’m not researching this fully, but it sounds like there are millions of sunni who may be pissed off at having Al Sisi stomped in on top of them. [wikipedia] It was the muslim brotherhood that backed Morsi’s election and got shot and disappeared (shooting and disappearing the muslim brotherhood has been a long-running theme in Egyptian politics)  The degree to which the US was involved in the military coup or the revolution is something we probably won’t know for another generation. There was a certain amount of nodding and cheering for the protests that overthrew Mubarak, until the US establishment began to realize that they might wind up with (gasp!) an “islamist” government instead. From here, it looks like the US wants to find atheist-nihilist dictators who use religion as a handy tool, because true believers (or nihilists who use that tool too effectively) are scary. And, let us be honest with ourselves: the US is heavily sectarian, infected from the top to the bottom with christians and christian beliefs, and there are not going to cheerfully allow majority muslim parts of the world to choose leaders based on religion. This is a cultural conflict, a political conflict, and a religious conflict – at each level the messaging is tuned to the listener: oil for the rich, violence for the militarists, imperialism for the nihilists, and a stealthy crusade for the christians.

The silence out of Egypt since Al Sisi took over has been pretty deafening. Presumably that’s because the people who were making noise have had their mouths stuffed with sand.

I think the timing of Al Sisi’s arrival in Washington is suspicious, especially given the way US and Turkish cooperation appear to be melting down over the question of Kurdish nationalism and Erdogan’s well-telegraphed intent to Putinize Turkey. Perhaps the US has leaned over and yelled “Strongman on Deck!” Perhaps what’s really going on is that ISIS is getting ready to destabilize Egypt (more) and the US has brought Al Sisi in to finger-wag at him about controlling his territory better because ISIS is threatening to break out on the southern border of the US/Europe’s main colony in the Middle East. Are we seeing the opening moves in the Syriazation of Egypt? Or is Egypt looking for a handout of weapons and a package of military assistance? Military assistance will almost certainly include special forces running around killing people in the dark, another covert imperial war that happens where the news isn’t covering it. Right now, it sounds like the US has special forces operating pretty much everywhere in the Middle East, except there has been silence around Egypt, until now.


I don’t feel like there’s a clear enough picture about what happened in Egypt. I’ve been hesitant to dig into the history of that time because I don’t feel like the bodies have been buried, yet. If you go into the history of a time and you suspect that everyone is lying about everyone else, how do you get a feeling for what may have happened? I know the answer to that, from historians I grew up around: you just spend your life trying to figure it out. Then you tell everyone.

I haven’t posted a bunch of links to source material about this because I don’t have anything I can point to, specifically, that’s making me nervous. In other words, I freely admit that I don’t know what I’m talking about, and I’m unsure. Links and references that might help clarify the situation would be great – I’ll read them. Right now I feel like I can’t believe anything I read anywhere, any more. That’s one of the side effects of the post-truth world: people get lulled into a “wait and see” attitude because they realize they can’t believe any of what they think they see, anyway. TL;DR version: I am worried that the US is about to fuck up bigtime in Egypt.


  1. Dunc says

    Egypt is a very different matter to Syria. At the end of the day, Syria isn’t that important to the US – they want to ensure that their opponents in the region don’t score a win, but other than that, the country can go to hell and nobody really cares.

    Egypt, on the other hand, is of vital geostrategic importance, because it hosts the Suez canal. “The West” absolutely will not tolerate any possible interference with shipping through the canal.

  2. jrkrideau says

    @ 1Dunc
    “Egypt, on the other hand, is of vital geostrategic importance, because it hosts the Suez canal. “The West” absolutely will not tolerate any possible interference with shipping through the canal.”

    I think you missed the Six Day War[1] and the closure of the Suez Canal from 1967 to 1975. I believe this led to the development, or, at least , hastened the development of supertankers.

    The last attempt by the West to take over control of the Canal did not go all that well, (See Suez Crisis 1956).

    1. Well, it was over in a flash.

  3. says

    Dunc@#1 and jrkrideau@#2:
    Egypt is definitely different and more important – that’s why the dictatorships there have been more stable and the US continues to violate its own laws by militarily propping up the dictatorship there. (I don’t see why they bother fig-leafing that, anymore) (they probably won’t for much longer)

    So, yes, I think the US will heavily support Egypt in dealing with insurgents. After all, we’re amazingly successful at counter-insurgency. We’re the best at it. #MAGA

  4. Dunc says

    jrkrideau@#2: It’s exactly that experience that will make us determined to avoid a repeat. And it’s not just about oil any more – shipping is the lifeblood of the globalised economy.