Thousands of Egyptians were killed and injured between Wednesday and Friday last week because of a decision made by U.S. president Barack Obama. When the Egyptian military overthrew democratically-elected Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi, a few weeks ago and confined him no one knows where, Obama refused to describe the Egyptian military action as a “coup.” The reason he refused to call the coup a coup is because United States’ law would have then compelled him to suspend the US$ 1.6 billion in annual military aid the United States is giving Egypt.
If this U.S. aid had been cut off, the Egyptian generals would not have been so eager to start shooting their own people demonstrating for a return to civilian, democratic rule. By refusing to call a spade a spade, Obama gave the green light to the generals to do whatever they felt like doing. A lot of Egyptian blood is on Barack’s hands.
In a few weeks in Belize we will be celebrating a battle where no one died. We Belizeans owe it to all those thousands of Egyptians who gave their lives and limbs for democracy to examine what it is that they believe in to the point that they became martyrs in the streets. We should join our insignificant voices to those worldwide which are condemning these massacres.
Two years ago, then Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, who had ruled Egypt under virtual martial law for three decades, was forced to step down because of overwhelming popular anger as expressed in street protests. The military and other forces which rule Egypt today and have declared a return to martial law, suspending the right to trial or due process, are basically the same people who were in power under Mubarak.
Commentators say there are two other large forces in Egypt besides the pro-Mubarak element. One such force is the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamic organization which has existed for eighty years in Egypt and is technically banned. The Muslim Brotherhood, however, recently registered itself as a non-governmental organization. Then there are a large number of Egyptians whom some analysts describe as secular-liberal in thinking. It was a loose alliance of the last two forces which overthrew Mubarak in 2011.
When elections were held last year, the Islamist candidate, Mohamed Morsi, was democratically elected by a small margin. Some weeks ago large demonstrations began against his presidency. These demonstrations gave the pro-Mubarak military the opportunity to overthrow Morsi violently and claim they were acting in the name of the Egyptian people. The likelihood is that the same secular-liberal element which had helped to overthrow Mubarak, may have turned against Morsi’s Islamist rule. They did not bargain, however, for the bloodbath which the pro-Mubarak military has visited upon pro-Morsi supporters, mostly Muslim Brotherhood affiliates.
One of the reasons I am writing this column is that I have friends who are Christian fanatics, and I want to bring pressure on them to look this Egyptian humanitarian crisis squarely in the eye. In the Middle East, religion and politics are mixed with each other to an explosive extent. There is a great responsibility which belongs to the world superpower, the Christian United States, and its first black president, Barack Obama.
Barack implicitly gave his blessing to a military coup in Egypt, and the result has been street massacres. He refused to call the military’s ouster of Morsi a coup because the United States wants Morsi out of office. Obama violated a very young democracy in the most populous Arab state in the region, and he must take blame for the bloodshed.
At the end of the day, it is always about protecting Israel, America’s most precious ally in the Middle East. I hesitated to say “important,” because how can you decide which is more important to America – Israel or Saudi Arabia? Israel is Washington’s military surrogate in the Middle East, but it is Saudi Arabian oil which is indispensable to the U.S. economy.
Egypt is Israel’s next door neighbor. You will remember in the New Testament that when King Herod threatened the life of the infant Christ, Joseph fled with Mary and Jesus into Egypt. In Washington’s Middle East model, it is vital that there is a government in Egypt which is willing to co-exist with Israel. In search of that ideal, Obama was willing to violate a basic tenet of democracy and turn his eyes away from a military golpe. Afraid of Muslim Brotherhood influence on Morsi, Barack went back to the Mubarak people.
In defence of democracy last week, Egyptians last week shed their blood and gave their lives. Does it matter if they were Islamic in their religious beliefs? Is Muslim blood different from Christian blood when it is shed in the name of democracy? If this were happening to us in Belize, we would want people outside our borders to sympathize with us. Think about that, my Christian brethren and sistren. Think about that.