Thursday, June 02, 2011

stuck in the middle

these two stories reflect the difficult position the new egyptian regime is in with regard to israel. gas shipments to israel and the gaza blockade are both extremely unpopular in egypt, and the new egypt is supposed to be responsive to the will of the people. but the gas deal and gaza blockade is also broadly supported by the u.s., the country that writes the check on egypt's generous aid package.

so how does the new egypt get a government that reflects the wishes of its people and keep the u.s. dollars flowing? i don't think it can. right now egypt is ruled by a military council. most of the u.s. aid goes to the military, so they will do whatever is necessary to keep the money flowing, even if it means stifling the desires of the people. (i bet, for example, the minute someone in congress talks about cutting off aid because the egyptians aren't honoring their gas deals with israel, the technical difficulties will somehow melt away and the gas will flow)

assuming this fall's elections are the real thing, and not some sham to keep the military folks in power, then all bets are off. if the new government really reflects the electorate, then things are going to get even more dicey.  the "cold peace" will get even colder and the gas deal might be a casualty of that new chill. on the other hand, if the government does things to threaten the military's gravy train, there might be a threat of a military coup.

this is just an illustration of how american aid distorts the egyptian political dynamic. it also shows that the egyptian aid package subverts rather than promoted democracy in that country. then again, that package has always been more about protecting israel than doing the egyptians any favors.

(in a related matter, i see my old friend hedy will be on this year's gaza flotilla)