Monday, July 01, 2013

A Specter is Haunting Egypt

A specter is haunting Egypt: the specter of Nasserism. All the powers of the West and the old Middle East have entered into an alliance to exorcise this specter: clerics and kings, Muslim Brothers and al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya, Al Qaeda killers and secret police spies.

But the specter refuses to be driven out of his homeland. Instead, he seems to be getting stronger. Foreign experts are confused.

Prediction: there will be a great deal of blood in Egypt--fighting in the streets and police violence--and Washington will be blamed. Increasingly, Egyptians with whom the United States should in principle be aligned--secular and truly moderately observant Muslims, Christians and other minorities--will blame the U.S. for cynically and stupidly siding with the clerical fascists (Islamists) seeking to enslave people in the name of religion.

Decades of covert and, more recently, overt support for Islamism will backfire, yet again. Nasser's ghost will smile as Arab nationalism makes a comeback. Vilification of Washington--by all sides--will reach new levels.

Hatred of Israel will also intensify. Instead of sympathizing with the Jewish State's predicament, the nationalists will accuse it of contributing to the region's destabilization and of secretly aiding the Sunni Islamists in order to serve "U.S. imperialism" and in order to counter Shiite Islamist Iran and Hezbollah. Bizarre alliances of convenience--even by Middle Eastern standards--could ensue. Secular Arab nationalists and Shiite Arab and Iranian Islamists vs. Sunni Arab and Turkish Islamists--why not? The Western/Saudi-orchestrated civil war in Syria--Egypt's old United Arab Republic partner--sets the stage for such strategies and arrangements.

Who knows how the tragic play will end? At the rate things are going, the UAR could be revived just in time for a full-blown, new Cold War, complete with Russian arms flowing to a new, Nasserist regime in Cairo.

A date to watch:  July 26, anniversary of Nasser's announcement of the nationalization of the Suez Canal Company in 1956.

VINTAGE VIDEO ENDNOTE: Click below to watch a fascinating piece of archival video--Egypt's late, charismatic president, Gamal Abdel Nasser commenting on the Muslim Brotherhood, which tried to assassinate him. The failed attempt resulted in a huge crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, a defeat from which it did not really recover until Obama's "outreach" to Islamic clerical fascism emboldened the organization to seize power. In his speech to supporters, Nasser seems more modern than Obama on the issue of backward Muslim headscarves; certainly, Nasser was a modernizer compared with, say, Turkey's wannabe new sultan, the Islamist prime minister Recep Erdogan, whom Obama hails as a "friend" and "partner," or the leaders of Syria's so-called rebels.

-André Pachter
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