In the 48-hour lead-up to Mohammed Morsi’s ouster, the post-presidential expulsion talking points were already starting to emerge.
First, was the very fundamental issue of whether this military ouster of a democratically elected Islamist president is a good idea or bad one. In other words, do we slot this one in the “evil” or “admirable” box?
Next, the business of semantics: coup or revolution? Triumph of popular will or subversion of democracy? How are we supposed to spin this one?
Since military takeovers – temporary or longstanding – are not new, we can always look for parallels in other countries where khaki-clad generals have seized power from civilian leaders.
It doesn’t matter if different countries and societies have unique histories, contexts and circumstances. Everybody loves a good analogy.
We love it even more when we can use countries as metaphors. So, in a 12-month period, one West African nation moved from “Is Mali the next Afghanistan?” to “Mali is not the next Afghanistan”.
We set up a crap comparison, then knock it down. That’s how it is in this business.
In Egypt’s case, we narrowed it down to two Muslim-dominated countries.
The Algeria analogy started shortly after Egypt’s army chief Gen. Abdel Fattah al Sisi issued the 48-hour ultimatum on Monday night to Morsi and other Egyptian politicians to work it out or face the consequences.
For anyone who’s covered Algeria, this analogy is a jaw-dropper.
Yes, the Algerian military scrapped the 1992 elections, which the Islamist FIS (Front Islamique de Salut) party was expected to win, sparking a grotesquely ferocious civil war.
But Algeria has an unmatched history and context that stretches back from FLN domination, to Boumediene’s socialist isolation, to a brutal national struggle, to French colonial torture chambers, to…I can go on, but you get the point.
That did not stop the Times of Israel from proclaiming, “Overnight, Egypt becomes Algeria”.
You would think the Israelis would know the difference, but countries can apparently transmogrify overnight. Frankly, the Israelis should be happier with a military pouvoir-dominated Egypt than a Muslim Brotherhood-controlled Arab nation, so I don’t understand what they’re complaining about.
The Pakistan comparisons, I admit, were mostly harmless and hilarious. “Yaars,” tweeted one well-meaning Pakistani, using the Urdu word for buddies, “this whole military coup isnt such a hot idea. Please reconsider. Trust us. We have tons of experience – Pakistanis to Egyptians.”
Follow that dollar
Analogies done, let’s get down to semantics.
At the heart of the coup v. revolution debate lies that $1.5 billion US aid to Egypt – as we are being frequently reminded these days.
This is because the US has the 1961 Foreign Assistance Act, which mandates that Washington must suspend foreign aid to any nation whose elected leader is ousted in a coup d’etat.
Yeah, sure. Tell that to Haiti, Honduras and Pakistan – those are just the countries I can think of, there are probably a whole lot more. You see, the Foreign Assistance Act is as flexible as a contortionist – there are all sorts of legal provisions and presidential waivers that can keep Washington’s largesse flowing – as the Haitians, Hondurans and Pakistanis know.
Meanwhile, Sen. Patrick Leahy, chairman of Senate subcommittee overseeing foreign aid, has already said his committee will be reviewing “future aid to the Egyptian government as we wait for a clearer picture”.
I tweeted that Leahy announcement last night simply because it’s newsworthy and promptly received some very irate replies for my efforts.
“KEEP YOUR AID, YOU DON’T CONTROL US!” hollered one incensed Egyptian.
I hear you, angry tweeter. I understand the sentiment behind that rebuke – even if that $1.5 billion is critical in a country with plummeting foreign reserves, rising unemployment and spiralling inflation.
daily alternative | alternative news – Coup or whatchamacallit, Egypt is not Algeria, Pakistan, or any ‘stan