Saturday, January 29, 2011

As has been reported elsewhere, the US is playing all ends of the Egyptian conflict in the sense that it has for decades sponsored Mubarak with full knowledge of his frequent use of torture, has for years infiltrated the Muslim Brotherhood, whose collaboration with Mubarak has led to diminished influence, and by infiltrating and training the April 6 movement, which has hosted events with the neoliberal Mohamed ElBaradai and no doubt wishes to maintain US aid but with different domestic policy. If Mubarak flees, the process presumably moves to setting up elections which often means for the US: first get your guy elected by hook or by crook, then try to prop up his legitimacy as much as you can.

Israel is sweating this out not because they're concerned that the US won't push - through ElBaradai or anyone else - to maintain Egypt's ties to them, but that they have to consider for a moment the popular will in Egypt and Jordan, two countries with which they've developed strong diplomatic ties since beating them on the battlefield. Elections in Tunisia (which despite being a pro-Western Italian beach resort hasn't for a while allowed those with Israeli passports in) and Egypt, and the possible political changes in Jordan, mean that Israel has to lie low for a while, and getting the US to publicly pander becomes counterproductive (which most likely won't stop them). The release by Al-Jazeera of the Palestinian Papers, which show total subordination and acquiescence of the Palestinian Authority to Israel, may not have sparked the North African revolts but will in some way affect the outcome.

The US-Israeli relationship here should be viewed in light of their shared function -- Israel gets an annual stock of military hardware to drop on Gaza and the US has, over the course of the last 50 years, used Israel to help wrest the geopolitical prize of the Suez Canal from European powers. Agence France-Presse writes "the US is leading international support for a new Tunisia, to the detriment of its former colonial power, France."

Col. Fletcher Prouty maintained that "The Egyptians receive 2-1/2 -- 3 billion dollars from us.. How does Egypt earn its money? It meters the Suez canal to oil and no oil goes through the Suez canal. So the movement of oil causes the tide of prices to rise all over the world." Around 2-4 million barrels a day of oil ships northbound through the Suez Canal and the Suez-Mediterranean Pipeline, though these numbers are subject to wide fluctuation and subsequent price changes, higher prices obviously bolstering the oil companies. Prouty has an interesting take on the US power play against Europe in the 1956 Suez Crisis:

"In 1956, just before the Arab-Israeli War, the British.. and the French.. had made covert plans to help the Israelis against Nasser for their own interests. Naturally, General Dayan wanted to defeat and roll back the Egyptians, and the British and French were more than willing to help re-establish some control over the Suez and relieve Arab pressures over Algeria. These three interested partners planned in secret to strike at Egypt, defeat the Egyptian army, and depose Nasser. A French undercover unit of navy commandos disguised as Arabs was in Cairo for the express purpose of killing Nasser.. Neither Britain nor France informed John Foster Dulles, the American Secretary of State, of their plans. As events progressed, Dulles played on this lack of formal coordination heavily, assuming the role of an unwitting and appalled outsider...

"For whatever reason, Dayan jumped off against the Egyptians with crushing air attacks about forty-eight hours ahead of the joint plans. This locked the British and French and called their hands... The French.. moved in swiftly to do away with Nasser. French and British forces steamed across the Mediterranean at top speed to join the action. It was certain that Nasser would be knocked out in a short time.

"John Foster Dulles, seeing all this.. demanded that the British and the French stop where they were and ordered Dayan to a halt. Over the shorter horizon, Khruschchev thundered that if the attack did not stop he would hurl missiles at all hostile targets in Europe. With pressure from Dulles, from Khrushchev.. England.. submitted. The Suez Affair.. prevented the British from re-establishing an enlightened control over the Canal, and it created a situation that made further French action in North Africa untenable.., unrest on the Arab-Israeli border.., (and had) a tremendous impact on the United States... (which) heard Khrushchev's threat to hurl rocket across Europe loud and clear," leading to the installation of inter-ballistic missiles in Europe. (Secret Team 392-3)

The Sinai Peninsula is considered an emerging area for oil exploration but drilling hasn't started, a major impediment to Egyptian drilling in the past being the Israeli occupation of it. Here again, the US's influence with Israel provides another form of leverage to control Egypt.

Noam Chomsky documents the conversion of Egypt into a client state in the mid-70s, when Kissinger was pressured by oil companies to fund Sadat and held off, but later sold the idea to Israeli interests after Egypt's show of military strength in 1973: a FOAI document of one such pitch has Kissinger proposing funding Sadat to "'ensure that the Europeans and Japanese did not get involved in the diplomacy concerning the Middle East,' 'to keep the Soviets out of the diplomatic arena,' 'to isolate the Palestinians,' so that they would not be a factor in the outcome, and 'to break up the Arab united front,' thus allowing Israel 'to deal separately with each of its neighbors' while of course remaining dependent on the United States." (World Orders Old and New 212-3)

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