Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s visit to Egyptian military rulers on Tuesday was yet another illustration of the close military ties between the two countries, and the leverage the US is still exercising over the ruling council. His stated reasons for going were to cement security ties and try to “ease Egyptian-Israeli tensions.” In addition, he was supposed to ask for the release of a dual US-Israeli citizen who was arrested in Cairo four months ago on suspicion of spying for Mossad.
The diplomatic spectacle that is US dominance over the Egyptian military leadership, now ruling the country, is important and portends a failed turn to democracy for Egyptians. As I’ve written, the US is actively working to prevent authentic democracy in Egypt, in part by strengthening the already unusually close military ties, sending aid (read: bribes), sending weapons and military equipment, all the while pressuring the leadership to crackdown on peaceful protesters.
In public, US officials claim they want to see democratic progress in Egypt. Panetta reportedly asked them to rescind the harsh emergency law:
“I did make the request that I thought it was important that they lift the emergency law,” Panetta said. “The response I got back is that they are seriously looking at the first opportunity to be able to do that. I said it was important to be able to lift it if we’re going to proceed toward free and fair elections in Egypt. They agreed with that.”
Hard to believe. Ordinary Egyptians see right through these superficial assertions. Since the ousting of Mubarak, any hint of US aid or alliance has been roundly scorned and vehemently rejected. Their message: stay the hell out of our business. They lived through more than 4o years of “US democracy promotion” under the brutal torturous dictator Mubarak.
Elections have been postponed, oppressive emergency law remains in place, and the number of military tribunals is hitting record highs. Listen here to Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous: