The dawn must come.

The dawn must come.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Play it again Sam!

(with all the due respect to Mr. Humphrey Bogart’s line in his immortal “Casablanca”)

In August 2009, Mr. Steven Cook  presented to the “Council on Foreign Relations’ Centre for Preventive Action” a document of the highest importance and significance. A document which came to be known as “CTM#4” (Contingency Planning Memo n°4) entitled:
“Political Instability in Egypt”
The aim of the document is defined in Mr. Cook’s own words: This contingency planning memo will assess the possibility of acute political instability in Egypt and consider the measures the United States might adopt to help prevent and, if necessary, mitigate the unwelcome effects of such a crisis”.
As the document went on, and under the heading “A Troubled Succession – The Military Steps In”, we can see the author pin-pointing the two possible scenarios leading to an Egyptian Military intervention:

“Egypt’s constitutionally mandated procedures may elevate Gamal Mubarak or someone else to the presidency, but the new president may fail to exercise power wisely. A relatively weak leader incapable of managing the regime’s competing constituencies corresponding to the challenges facing Egypt might push the country into a downward spiral. Faced with growing elite and mass opposition to the new president, the internal security services might seize control to prevent further instability.

The Egyptian Interior Ministry is not known for its deft or light touch and could conceivably overplay its hand and make matters worse or prove incapable of dealing with a coordinated challenge, forcing the military to step in”.

And this part has already materialised. While the second one is, in my personal belief and according to the ongoing events that we all are observing, is happening almost exactly as Mr. Cook’s described it:

“the Egyptian military might launch a palace coup if it decided that the selection of Gamal or any other civilian as president threatened the critical yet uncodified institutional link between the armed forces and the presidency. This outright rejection of Egypt’s constitutionally mandated succession process could spark widespread opposition. This threat to order would, in turn, provide additional justification for the military to remain engaged in the political arena”.

Nevertheless, what is crucial for us to understand is detailed black on white in Mr. Cook’s memo under the heading “U.S. Options to Prevent a Succession Crisis”, where it states:

“The options U.S. officials should consider in seeking to prevent a succession crisis in Egypt depend on broader American objectives. If U.S. officials believe that a policy based on ‘authoritarian stability’ is the best means to achieve U.S. interests in Egypt and the Middle East, then Washington’s approach to preventing a succession crisis should seek to perpetuate the current political order. Although Washington would publicly support a ‘legitimate’ transition, it would privately support a succession that ensured the best chances of continuity from the Hosni Mubarak era to his successor.

Toward that end, the United States should:

1) continue its aid program to Egypt, particularly the approximately $1.3 billion that is intended for the modernization of Egypt’s military;
2) provide additional financial assistance and training that would bolster the government’s physical capacity to resist and suppress internal challenges;
3) start free trade agreement negotiations with Cairo, which would not only improve Egypt’s economic prospects but also signal Washington’s political support for the present political
order; and
4) inform the leaders of Egypt’s military and international security services privately that Washington supports a version of the status quo”.

It is evident that the first three options are aiming mainly at creating more burden over an already agonising Egyptian economy, through new loans along with their devastating SAPs (Structural Adjustments Programmes) and interests; while the latter seem to have been adequately communicated in due time, which may explain the February 11th declaration broadcasted by Omar Soliman (please refer to his aired statement’s wording), the ex chief of Egyptian intelligence agency who is still roaming freely around the country and the world.

Anyhow,  keeping present that the document is dated August 2009, here comes the best part of that memo under the heading “RECOMMENDATIONS”:

First, Washington should reduce the likelihood of being blindsided by events in Egypt. More intelligence resources should be devoted to understanding the dynamics of Egypt’s political, social, and economic realities. Among other things, the size of the CIA’s station in Cairo should be increased, and the CIA’s headquarters in Langley, VA, should add more analysts fluent in Arabic who are tasked with developing a better understanding of Egyptian society. Analysts should be challenged in their intelligence products and contingency exercises to question the assumption that authoritarian stability will persist indefinitely in Egypt.

Second, the United States should continue to quietly promote positive political change in Egypt.

Third, the United States must use its aid to help support the standard of living for Egyptians.

Fourth, policymakers must be aware that the scenarios outlined above are qualitatively different. Military intervention in Egypt poses some short-terms risks to the United States. In contrast, a successful Islamist push for power in Egypt would result in a fundamental shift in the regional order that would pose a far greater threat—in magnitude and degree—to U.S. interests than the Iranian revolution”.

Now, with six “should” and two “must”, and if you know the real political power of the Conference on Foreign Relations, you would realise how important such a memo was in determining the overall American Strategy to deal with Egypt’s revolution. In a way or another we are witnessing its results on the ground right now!

But is not the “Military Supreme Council”, together with the “Interim Government”, who follow that plan to “serve and protect” the vital interests of the United States?

It seems as if they, too, agree with Mr. Cook’s conclusion that:

“Climate change, demographic shifts, global energy needs, and changes in the international system over a five-to-ten-year time frame pose novel and extraordinarily complex challenges that the Egyptian government is decidedly ill-equipped to manage”.

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