So Far, The Military Coup Looks Like It Will Be A Disaster For Egypt In The End

Nearly six months later, it's hard to find any good in the July military coup in Egypt.

Mideast Egypt

In the nearly six months since the military coup that replaced the elected government of Mohammed Morsi with a military-controlled government that, much like the era that lasted from the elevation to power of Gamal Abdel Nassar in the late 1950s to the protests that led to the removal from power of Hosni Mubarak in 2011, things have not exactly gone very well. After re-assuming power, the military moved to crack down on the Muslim Brotherhood and any other group that opposed them, cracked down on independent journalists, and showed little hesitation in using overwhelming force to break up anti-government protests no matter how peaceful they might have been. Former President Morsi, meanwhile, remains in custody and will likely face trial sometime next year on charges of treason for actions taken while he served in office and, mostly recently, the entire Muslim Brotherhood has been declared a terrorist organization:

CAIRO — Egypt’s military-backed government on Wednesday designated the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization, criminalizing the activities and finances of a movement that rose to power in national elections last year but has been crippled by a government crackdown since a coup in July.

The announcement was a stunning blow to the decades-old Islamist organization, which survived for years in the shadows and in prison cells under then-President Hosni Mubarak but reached the height of political power after his ouster in the 2011 uprising.

With the victory last year of Mohamed Morsi — a former Brotherhood leader — in Egypt’s first democratic presidential election, the movement was poised to realize its Islamist project. But it struggled to govern the country’s vast and bloated bureaucracy, and after Morsi’s ouster, it became the target of a campaign of arrests and killings.

Wednesday’s decree, which accused the Brotherhood of a deadly car bombing outside a security building Tuesday, broadened the government’s authority to move against the group.

Egyptian legal experts said the decree would shutter hundreds of charities and nongovernmental organizations affiliated with the Brotherhood, one of Egypt’s largest opposition groups. The organizations provide health care and other services to rural and urban areas that lack infrastructure.

Anyone who is a member of the Brotherhood, participates in its activities or promotes or funds the group will be subject to prosecution under the Egyptian penal code, analysts said. Membership in a terrorist group is punishable by five years in prison. The maximum penalty for providing weapons and ammunition to a domestic terrorist group is death.

Brotherhood officials could not be reached for comment. But a statement posted on the group’s official Twitter account called Wednesday’s declaration a “worthless decision from an illegal gov’t without any evidence and will not change anything in reality.”

“The protests are in the streets despite a law restricting them — and killings and prison sentences. All this has not changed the will of the people,” said Ibrahim Elsayed, a member of the Brotherhood’s political group, the Freedom and Justice Party, the Associated Press reported. “The decision has no value for us and is only worth the paper it is written on.”

The declaration by Egypt’s interim cabinet seems likely to harden further the divide between Morsi’s supporters and secular backers of the government ahead of a referendum on a new constitution scheduled for next month.

Morsi’s presidency faltered under an already crumbling economy and his controversial efforts to pass a new constitution, further isolating the increasingly unpopular Brotherhood, whose leaders began courting hard-line Islamists to bolster support.

After Wednesday’s announcement, the United States expressed concern about “the current atmosphere and its potential effects on a democratic transition in Egypt.”

“We think it is essential for Egypt to have an inclusive political process; it is the best means of restoring the stability that the Egyptian people want and that is necessary to the country’s economic recovery,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. “There needs to be dialogue and political participation across the political spectrum.”

The only thing that labeling the Brotherhood a terrorist organization and forbidding them from participating in the political process is likely to accomplish, of course, is to drive them underground and, quite probably guaranteed that their designation of the group as a terrorist group a self-fulfilling prophecy. Indeed, when you are cutoff from any other manner in which to participate in the political life of the nature you are living in, the idea of taking up violence becomes far easier to justify to yourself. We’ve already seen plenty of acts of seemingly political violence in post-coup Egypt, much of it coming from the Sinai Peninsula but also incidents occurring in that part of Egypt to the west of the Suez Canal. Just days after the military government designated them as a terrorist group, for example, the Brotherhood, or somebody, seems to have responded:

The bus stood empty, most of its windows shattered, the result of a roadside bomb that exploded in Cairo on Thursday morning and injured five people. Police closed the road in both directions, and small crowds of onlookers gathered along the cordons. An officer presented to the crowds a bowl-shaped device, a second bomb, they said, discovered inside a roadside advertising box. Students carrying books, coming from the Islamic al-Azhar University, paused as they walked past.

The blast was the second in Egypt in three days. Fifteen people were killed in a much larger explosion, a suicide car bombing, according to the Interior Ministry, at a police headquarters in the Nile Delta town of Mansoura early on Tuesday. In response to the Mansoura bombing, the military-backed government officially branded the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization, a measure that deepens the military-backed government’s clampdown on the Islamist group following the military’s removal of Brotherhood-affiliated President Mohamed Morsi from power in July. The new designation criminalizes membership in the organization and its activities and finances.

No evidence has surfaced linking the Muslim Brotherhood to either attack. The Brotherhood’s official media organs condemned the Mansoura bombing, and a separate group, Sinai-based Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, claimed responsibility for it. Nevertheless the government appears determined to use the violence as an opportunity to pursue its crackdown on the organization. “From [the security establishment’s] perspective, they see this as an opportunity to eradicate, once and for all, an organization that they hate. That takes precedence over everything else,” says Shadi Hamid, director of research at the Brookings Doha Center.

Of course, violence, regardless of who might be responsible for it, may be exactly what the military wants:

Some experts suggest that a violent showdown suits the designs of hard-liners within Egypt’s security state. “It is obvious that there is a faction within this government that is pushing everything toward escalation and violence in order to force their opponents to resort to violence,” says Emad Shahin, a political scientist at the American University in Cairo.

The best evidence for that hypothesis may be the fact that the military isn’t limiting its crackdown to just the Muslim Brotherhood:

In recent weeks the military-led government has also extended the clampdown to include non-Islamist opposition groups who carry the torch of the January 2011 uprising that toppled dictator Hosni Mubarak. On Sunday a court sentenced three prominent activists who helped spearhead the 2011 revolt to three years in prison for violating a new law that criminalizes all street protests that take place without explicit government permission. The three, Ahmed Maher, Ahmed Douma and Mohammed Adel, founders of the April 6 youth movement, declared a hunger strike on Wednesday in protest of the conditions of their detention. Their winter clothes, they said through an intermediary, had been taken away, with no replacement, by guards who said the garments were the wrong color.

Everywhere in Egypt, the raucous, unpredictable space for political expression opened by the 2011 revolution appears to be shrinking. The government asserts that the clampdown on the Brotherhood and restrictions on protest are needed in order to restore the security needed to proceed with a “road map” for political transition

What seems obvious, though, is that the military’s primary concern is a “road map” that leads to a new political leadership in the nation that essentially just serves as the public face of a regime that is, in reality, controlled by the military and that the new political arrangement in Egypt protects the military’s preferential position in Egyptian government and society much as it did during the Nassar-Sadat-Mubarak Era. Of course, that isn’t what the massive crowds who flooded the streets of Cairo, Alexandria, and elsewhere both in 2011 and 2013 are looking for. Indeed, one of the main reasons that protests began erupting against Morsi’s rule earlier this year is the fact that he seemed far more concerned with solidiying the power of the Brotherhood than in making Egypt a more democratic nation. When the military stepped in back in July and removed him from power, the public rallied to their side, not because they looked forward to the prospect of returning to a replay of the era of military rule that ended in February 2011 but because they thought it would return the nation to the path that it appeared to be on when Mubarak stepped down. That places their desires at odds with those of the military, and raises the prospects for more protests and civil unrest in the future.

Daniel Larison sees a disaster in the making:

Thanks to the coup, Egypt is demonstrably less safe for Christians and less stable than it was, and it is in danger of becoming a rallying point for jihadist recruitment and a target for jihadist attacks. Criminalizing the Muslim Brotherhood may make it possible to dismantle or at least disrupt the organization to some degree, but that simply creates incentives for Islamists to support more radical and violent groups, and it will make it harder for the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood to control their members. All of that suggests that there will be more terrorist attacks and increased brutality from the authorities, both of which will serve to ruin the country.

None of this is in anyone’s interest, of course, least of all either those of the Egyptian people or the United States. An Egypt in a state of political and social collapse would likely have an impact across the Arab world, and most specifically in the immediate neighborhood. However, it’s not clear what if anything the United States can do about this. I tend to agree with Larison that the answer is that there’s pretty much nothing we can do. For one thing, the military is going to act primarily in its own interest and, in the event of any civil unrest, it likely will be able to crackdown sufficiently to preserve its power. For another, our military aid to Egypt doesn’t seem to have the influence that it once did. This is in no small part due to the fact that nations like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates have stepped up in the months since the coup as major providers of direct aid to the military themselves, and they seem to see the conflict with the Brotherhood and other groups as part of the larger battle between Sunni and Shia Islam. As long as they have access to that aid, the threat of the U.S. holding back aid as a punishment likely doesn’t have the same impact that it once did.

The above comments aren’t meant to endorse the Muslim Brotherhood. Indeed, Morsi created most of the problems that led to his removal from office with the actions in took during his one year in office. Nonetheless, it’s hard to see that a military coup that is clearly leading to the recreation of a state of affairs under which the Egyptian people were repressed for some 60 years is any better, especially if the predictions are right and the Arab world’s most populous nation turns into a recruiting ground for jihadists that bring their ideology into the already unstable areas around it. Of more concern, of course, is exactly what the military might be willing to do if the Egyptian people decided to try to return to the streets in the future in protest against the same military junta that they thought they had deposed in February 2011. The prospect for real bloodshed at that point would be quite high, and the future of Egypt would become even worse. That would be a disaster for all parties concerned.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Ron Beasley says:

    Larison is right as usual, there is nothing the US can do. Let’s just hope those in our government realize that.

  2. @Ron Beasley:

    The foreign policy realists do I think. Unfortunately, there are those on the left (Samantha Power and Susan Rice) and the right (Bolton and the rest of the Neo-cons) who seem to think that we can use our power to shape events that we really don’t have any control over.

  3. michael reynolds says:

    Interesting isn’t it to reflect back on predictions people were making decades ago about Israel and its neighbors. Far from Israel’s position being untenable, it seems their two most dangerous neighbors, Syria and Egypt, are in trouble.

    Also interesting to contemplate just how close the West came to failing to achieve democracy. We like to credit the Reformation, the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution, but even with all that we came within a handful of RAF fighters of the death of democracy, less than 75 years ago.

    It’s a fragile thing, democracy. We should probably remind ourselves of that from time to time, in between attempting to cripple it.

  4. michael reynolds says:

    A little off-topic but related: A long-form NYT piece concludes about Benghazi:

    Months of investigation by The New York Times, centered on extensive interviews with Libyans in Benghazi who had direct knowledge of the attack there and its context, turned up no evidence that Al Qaeda or other international terrorist groups had any role in the assault. The attack was led, instead, by fighters who had benefited directly from NATO’s extensive air power and logistics support during the uprising against Colonel Qaddafi. And contrary to claims by some members of Congress, it was fueled in large part by anger at an American-made video denigrating Islam.

  5. Ron Beasley says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Hillary certainly falls into that which is what worries me about her presidency.

  6. @michael reynolds:

    Well, yes and no.

    As I’ve said several times over the past year, it would not exactly be in Israel’s interest to have unstable nations on both its northern and southern borders (i.e., Syria and Egypt, with the potential that the Syrian situation could have implications for both Lebanon and Jordan.)

    If nothing else, such events are likely to increase the political influence of Netenyahu and the rest of the Likudniks in Israeli politics which will just increase general instability throughout the region.

    All of which is why we just need to stay the hell out of all of this mess.

  7. @Ron Beasley:

    I’m not sure about that. Obviously, I’m not privy to what happened inside the Obama Administration and what she actually thinks about these issues, but it’s always seemed to me that Hillary was somewhat of a counterbalance to the idealist vision (i.e., the whole “Responsibility To Protect” nonsense that Powers and Rice are such fans of) that some of Obama’s advisers support.

    It will be interesting to hear more about what she thinks on this issues in the coming years.

  8. Ron Beasley says:

    @michael reynolds: Yes, but it’s the liberal NYT.

  9. @michael reynolds:

    Yes I need to read that Benghazi report but it does seem to blow most of the conservative arguments out of the water.

  10. michael reynolds says:

    I completely agree we need to stay the hell out of both Syria and Egypt. I think any notion that we can reliably influence events to our advantage is insane. Way too big, way too complex, way too few rational players, way too many crazy people.

    But I wonder if we have any war gaming for pulling a 1956 to grab the Suez canal in the event that things go really bad. Not even sure how necessary the canal is nowadays.

  11. Steve V says:

    Re Benghazi, conservatives didn’t just doubt the “YouTube video” story; they thought it was self-evidently ludicrous and were quite condescending about it (*cough*Doug*cough*). Why was that?

  12. Stonetools says:

    Dunno about this being good for Israel.
    About all the Obama Administration can do is to pay the military to keep observing the peace treaty. If they cut off the aid, then Egypt has no need to observe the treaty, the border is open to Hamas and Egypt’s problem becomes Israel’s.
    A win for Assad means an Iran financed and armed Hezbollah is on the Golan Heights and on the Israel/Lebanon border. That’s not good either.
    To be honest, the Middle East is a godawful mess right now and we should pivot the hell away from it. Makes you wish for the return of the Ottoman Empire.

  13. Andre Kenji says:

    @michael reynolds:

    We like to credit the Reformation, the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution, but even with all that we came within a handful of RAF fighters of the death of democracy, less than 75 years ago.

    I doubt it. One can argue that large scale industrialization and commerce requires something at least resembling democracy. It´s no wonder that four empires(Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian, German and Tsarist Russia) ended with World War I, it´s doubtful that the Nazi economic model could work in the long term.

    By the way, that´s part of the problem with Egypt.

  14. Stonetools says:

    @Steve V:

    So maybe, just maybe Susan Rice was right and Doug and the conservatives who said that the video had NOTHING to do with the attack were wrong. Oh well, wouldn’t be the first time.

  15. michael reynolds says:

    @Andre Kenji:

    I don’t know, and obviously there’s no way to find out. But I doubt we’d be seeing a peaceful and prosperous Europe today had the Nazis triumphed. Maybe some day, but not yet.

  16. @Stonetools:

    I will comment on the Times article after I’ve read it, but the idea that a video that only had <100 views on YouTube prior to 9/11/12 was the reason for the attack on Benghazi or the protests in Egypt seem kind of silly. The more logical conclusion is that anti-Western Imam's telling people about the video was a means used by them to rile up anti-Western anger. The attack in Benghazi, meanwhile, seems to me to have been a far too precise an attack to have been spontaneous, as the initial comments by Susan Rice seemed to convey.

    As I said, I'll have more to say when I've had time to read the NY Times article.

  17. @michael reynolds:

    There are several novels out there dealing with the whole “What if the Nazis had won” question, as I’m sure you/’re aware.

    My guess is that, at the very least, we’d be seeing a much less populous Europe today had the Nazis won

  18. dazedandconfused says:

    I’m not sure any ‘form of government’ can fix this.

    Also, the gain in productive land from the Aswan dam have been fully realized. They can’t reduce the water flowing into the Med any more without risking a massive salt-water inundation across the broadest part of the delta.

    They may be just plain screwed.

  19. Davebo says:

    The military in Egypt has run the country in just about every way that matters for at least 2 decades now.

    As front men they may fail, but they have always controlled the economy which could explain why it’s always so crappy.

  20. C. Clavin says:

    @michael reynolds:
    But, but, but….Benghazi!!!
    Excellent piece.
    Apparently Darrell Issa couldn’t find this stuff out after 6 dozen Congressional hearings.

  21. Lounsbury says:

    @Doug Mataconis:
    I am afraid you have a poor grasp of media dissemination in this region of mine. The video had hot commentary in the religious circles in the days running up. No Youtube but not everything is about Youtube. I have long failed to see where the doubt comes from, if one has a non superficial and non myopic sense of the dissemination in Islamist leaning preaching circles throughout the region. Of course in Arabic…. perhaps not a surprise.

    Otherwise, re

    This is in no small part due to the fact that nations like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates have stepped up in the months since the coup as major providers of direct aid to the military themselves, and they seem to see the conflict with the Brotherhood and other groups as part of the larger battle between Sunni and Shia Islam.

    Re the bolded: No. They are not putting the Brotherhood – which is deeply, profoundly Sunni and generally light-Sunni supremacist – in the Sunni Shia rubric mate.

    They’re putting it in the far more dangerous – to them – rubric of (de)legitimization of traditional rule (i.e. royal families) versus open selection of government (one hesitates to say democracy as such).

    Brotherhood ideology has – for decades – been anti-Monarchist and for a nonhereditary rule either by Islamic sages or some Islamic quasi-democracy, or one must grant in more recent decades, Islamic Democracy in the sense of European Christian Democracy c. 1900-1950.

    The countries cited are traditional monarchies. That’s their problem with the Brotherhood, not Shia-Sunni divides (whatever loose, poorly learned commentary by Journos parachuted into regoin in the past few years might have implied during the Morsi ).

  22. Ron Beasley says:

    And our wonderful adventure in Iraq continues to work out well.
    7 killed as Iraqi troops arrest Sunni lawmaker

    Iraqi troops detained a Sunni lawmaker sought on terrorism charges on Saturday and killed his brother and five of his guards after they opened fire on the arresting officers. The incident, which will likely to add to the nation’s sectarian tensions, also left one Iraqi soldier dead.

  23. @Lounsbury:

    Nonetheless, the Saudis, Qataris, etc are setting this up as a Sunni v. Shia argument. If that’s how it ends up getting spun then the entire region will erupt in flames.

    Which, as far as I’m concerned is just another reason for the United States to get the hell out of the way and let these people fight it out among themselves

  24. Wr says:

    Gosh, military coups generally work out so well for the populace. Who could have known?

  25. @Wr:

    You have a point there

  26. Stonetools says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    While I agree it would be great to pivot away, I have to think that we might not be able to. The Suez. Canal is exactly where it is, Israel is where it is , and the Saudi oil fields are where they are, and they aren’t going to move, no matter what our political beliefs are. The Middle East has a way of dragging our attention back there, even if we want to focus elsewhere.

  27. Matt says:

    @Doug Mataconis: It reminds me a lot of the dutch Muhammad cartoon fiasco from a while back. The original cartoons drew very little attention at first. It wasn’t till Imams forged some extra cartoons (including Muhammad having sex with a pig) and started spreading the fakes with the real ones that the shit hit the fan. Evidence suggests that most of the rioters didn’t even see the drawings but heard them described by their Imam. I imagine something similar occurred with the video in question..

    For some examples that are closer to home one merely has to look at the false rumors accompany Obama’s campaign. From the whitey tapes that never emerged to the persistent Muslim rumors.

  28. Tillman says:

    So, did Sunni and Shia Islam ever have their version of the Thirty Years’ War?

  29. Andre Kenji says:

    @michael reynolds:

    But I doubt we’d be seeing a peaceful and prosperous Europe today had the Nazis triumphed

    The common saying among anyone that´s not North American is that Americans usually overestimates the role of the United States to defeat the Nazis(I´m not saying anything here). I think that´s difficult to imagine that Hitler would manage to contain the and the Slaves Soviets on one side, the British on another site(Or even believe that Hitler could manage to invade the Soviet Union and the United Kingdom on the same time). I think that cracks inside the large territory controlled by Hitler would be inevitable.

  30. Andre Kenji says:

    The NYT is not saying that there was no terrorist attack against the embassy. The NYT is saying that a local militia(Or, something that we could call a local terrorist group) with no links to Al Qaeda that probably organized the attack and that the video has probably a motivation for the attack. The NYT is also saying that both Stevens and the State Department ignored the risks represented by the militias that were armed in the uprising against Kadafi.

    Sure, the whole Republican Narrative about Benghazi was completely idiotic, but that does not necessarily mean that there was no terrorist attack. And yes, no one involved with the attack that was either killed or captured(If there were a single person with a IQ with three digits in the GOP or in the Conservative Movement that´s the ONLY thing that they would be asking about Benghazi). .

  31. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Andre Kenji: The common saying among anyone that´s not North American is that Americans usually overestimates the role of the United States to defeat the Nazis(I´m not saying anything here).

    One proper response is to note how much war materiel the United States gave (not even sold, gave Great Britain and the Soviet Union during the war. The Soviets did the lion’s share of the fighting and bleeding, but a lot of the critical things they fought with were stamped MADE IN THE USA. Hell, even the mighty T-34 tank used an American-designed suspension system. And England would quite probably lost the Battle of the Atlantic without those Lend-Lease destroyers and escort carriers we provided.

    In the air, the USAAF provided a superb complement to the RAF, allowing round-the-clock strategic bombing. And it wasn’t just one-way — the P-51 Mustang was a dog with the American engine; it didn’t acquire its legendary status until it was given a Rolls Royce engine.

  32. dazedandconfused says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Nonetheless, the Saudis, Qataris, etc are setting this up as a Sunni v. Shia argument.

    Egypt isn’t the Levant, and in significant ways not like the rest of the ME. The Saudis have always supported the (Sunni) military government against the Egyptian (Sunni) Brotherhood.

    Very few Shiites in Egypt.

  33. Lounsbury says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    They are? In English perhaps, as a line fed to Westerner security types perhaps (e.g. here).

    Regardless, the “entire region” is not going to erupt in flames. Only some very geographically specific spots care about Shia versus Sunni. As it happens that means the Levant, Iraq and the northern Persian Gulf coast. The Levant and Iraq are already in flames – thanks to USA in the later. So you have one concern, the Persian Gulf, and the Saudis with their large oppressed Shia minority that just happens to live in one of the major oil field areas in KSA (the only real reason the Saudis care about Bahrain, whose Royals otherwise have annoyed them).

    The whole of North Africa is utterly unconcerned by this. Utterly.

    However, I am no promoter of American intervention, having been in the region since Pre Bush ibn Bush disaster. I am merely correcting fallacious background analysis.

  34. Lounsbury says:

    @dazedandconfused: Yes, although one should say, the Saudis have for the past few decades supported the Neo Mamlouks in Egypt over the Brotherhood. That was not always the case, the era of Nasser was a different equation, e.g.. But the Ibn Saud are conservatives and prefer Status Quo over all.

    One can add that in Syria the roots of the Sunni Salafist opposition that the Saudis back are in the Brotherhood.

  35. Lounsbury says:

    Having now read the NYT arty, for the naive comment about Youtube hits: “Then, on Sept. 8, a popular Islamist preacher lit the fuse by screening a clip of the video on the ultraconservative Egyptian satellite channel El Nas. American diplomats in Cairo raised the alarm in Washington about a growing backlash, including calls for a protest outside their embassy.

    No one mentioned it to the American diplomats in Libya. But Islamists in Benghazi were watching. Egyptian satellite networks like El Nas and El Rahma were widely available in Benghazi. ”

    That is 100% spot on to my experience next door at the same time. The Salafist oriented Free to Air SatTV (for Americans, Sat TV is the dominant TV source, almost all Sat channels are Free to Air and coverage is effectively total) is how this stuff is disseminated. Not by bloody Youtube.

    The idea that a mobilisation could not occur with this lead-up or that Youtube hits have some relevance to the subject matter (other than to illustrate the pure opportunism of the Salafist preachers) is daft and parochial.

  36. steve says:

    Having read the NYT article I will have to, again, quibble with the assertion that it was well planned. The Americans retreated inside the buildings. The attackers were unable to get inside. A well organized attack is unable to get inside a few buildings? No chains to go around a trailer hitch and pull down some bars? No explosives? No hacksaws or rope? Even a Dremmel?


  37. C. Clavin says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:
    Shouldn’t you be admitting what a fool you are..,after the NYT piece makes all your Benghazi nonsense plain for even you to see?
    I mean… Seriously.
    Usually when someone is proven this wrong…they have the good sense to admit it…and then STFU.
    I guess that wouldn’t apply to you.

  38. OzarkHillbilly says:


    I am merely correcting fallacious background analysis.

    And thank you for this. All too often people make the mistake of looking at events with cultural blinders on and not even aware of their existence. It is a mistake that is all too easy to make.

  39. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @C. Clavin: He also isn’t wlking back his claims that the military coup in Egypt was necessary and (I think, if I am wrong jenos will correct me) good because Christians were under assault by Islamist radicals. That this last has not changed is hardly surprising.

  40. jukeboxgrad says:


    a video that only had <100 views on YouTube prior to 9/11/12

    As Lounsbury has already explained, the number of YouTube hits is quite irrelevant, because the video was seen by millions on Egypt TV on 9/8 (link). The Cairo riots started less than 48 hours later.


    Yes, but it’s the liberal NYT

    Yes, the usual suspects will dismiss this report for that reason. Therefore it’s helpful to notice that National Review also blamed the video, the day after the attack. Prior to the NYT report we already had plenty of evidence that the attackers were motivated by the video (link).


    the conservatives who said that the video had NOTHING to do with the attack

    Yes, that’s exactly what they said. Both Jonah Goldberg and Rush Limbaugh said this:

    the video had nothing to do with it

    Using the exact same words. It’s fair to describe that claim as a lie, because all along there has been plenty of evidence that the claim is false.

  41. Andre Kenji says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    One proper response is to note how much war materiel the United States gave (not even sold, gave Great Britain and the Soviet Union during the war.

    Yes, but note that a LAND invasion of Britain would have required a large number of troops, as well as invading and controlling the large area of the Soviet Union. Sure, the United States had an important role, that does not mean that Hitler would have necessarily won without it.

  42. Pinky says:

    My guess is that the terrorist designation will enable the government to move past shooting low-level opposition in the streets and start going after the leaders and their resources.

  43. Rafer Janders says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Nonetheless, the Saudis, Qataris, etc are setting this up as a Sunni v. Shia argument. If that’s how it ends up getting spun then the entire region will erupt in flames.

    Um, both the Muslim Brotherhood and the military are Sunni. Egypt is almost entirely Sunni. There are probably more Egyptian Christians (at 10% of the population) than there are Shiites.

  44. michael reynolds says:

    I never get too involved in alternative history because it invariably reduces the effects of randomness, or of individual acts, and assumes that only the larger forces will hold sway.

    Reality is more complicated and far less predictable. Had the Japanese caught our aircraft carriers, had Goering focused on taking out the radar installations along the British coast, had some production genius somewhere in the Urals not found a way to produce T-34’s like they were lollipops and had the men who drove those tanks broken at Kursk, had the Nazis been faster with mastering jet engines, had there been no Churchill or FDR to manage that Anglo-American dance in 1940 and 41. . . You can go on and on like that forever.

  45. C. Clavin says:
  46. michael reynolds says:

    @Andre Kenji:

    Churchill certainly thought US involvement was vital. After Pearl Harbor he’s quoted as saying, “So we have won after all.”

    At the same time, it would be absurd to give too much credit to things like the American suspension systems for the T-34. The Soviets built something like 100,000 of that tank, and nothing like that amount of steel or oil was coming through Murmansk and Archangelsk. We were undoubtedly the production champs in WW2, but the Soviets did an equally impressive job, particularly given that they were somewhat bothered by the large numbers of Germans running around their countryside, while hardship for us consisted of sugar shortages and the occasional white race riot.

  47. sam says:

    “After Pearl Harbor he’s quoted as saying, “So we have won after all.”

    “To have the United States at our side was to me the greatest joy. Now at this very moment I knew the United States was in the war, up to the neck and in to the death. So we had won after all!…Hitler’s fate was sealed. Mussolini’s fate was sealed. As for the Japanese, they would be ground to powder.”

    Pretty much spot on, especially the last.

  48. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    Here’s a radical thought: maybe the Egyptian military is calling the Muslim Brotherhood a “terrorist organization” because the MB is a terrorist organization.

    Back before the overthrow, the MB was already beginning to turn Egypt into yet another militant Muslim totalitarian state, going after non-Muslims and Muslims who weren’t “Muslim enough.”

  49. Lounsbury says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    No you bigotted cretin, the Brotherhood is not a terrorist organisation, and hasn’t been in recent memory.

    It wasn’t turning Egypt into a totalitarian state – not by the wildest exageration, they were allowing vastly more free speech and democratic participation that the pseudo-secular dictatorship you’re ignorantly cheering with bigotted cheer.

    Now, they also proved to be singularly incompetent in economic administration (albiet undercut by the Egyptian military state economy, but committed enough own goals on their own) and generally showed their political incompetence as well in managing even to alienate fellow non Brotherhood Salafists – such as the Nour Party.

    The very fact of the independent action of Nour and the huge range of secular opponents – who had the free hand to organize – rather makes your idiotic dribbled repetition of ignoramus provincial agitprop look yet more idiotic than your typical drivel.

    However much they deserved to lose power (and they amply deserved to lose power), the replacement of their extremely flawed and incompetent regime by yet another bankrupt Pseudo-Secular Neo Mamlouk military regime – Mubarekism sans Mubarek – is not going to do anything for either the legitimacy of secularism or for developing democratic habits.

  50. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Lounsbury: No you bigotted cretin, the Brotherhood is not a terrorist organisation, and hasn’t been in recent memory.

    It wasn’t turning Egypt into a totalitarian state – not by the wildest exageration, they were allowing vastly more free speech and democratic participation that the pseudo-secular dictatorship you’re ignorantly cheering with bigotted cheer.

    First up, it’s “bigoted.” And that’s also wrong.

    And tell your fabrications to the Copts in Egypt. Or the other factions who forged deals with the Muslim Brotherhood, and saw those deals get tossed away once the MB took power.

    And let’s not forget that the Muslim Brotherhood’s arm in the Palestinian Territories is Hamas, which is indisputably a terrorist group.

  51. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    Also, here’s the Brotherhood’s credo:

    “Allah is our objective; the Quran is our law, the Prophet is our leader; Jihad is our way; and dying in the way of Allah is the highest of our aspirations.”

  52. michael reynolds says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Boy, you are so dumb you don’t even know when you’re talking to someone who knows what they’re talking about. You’re too dumb to recognize the depth of your own ignorance. Now I’m starting to feel sorry for you.

  53. Lounsbury says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    I am always happy to talk to al-Quptine, and in their native language. You simply have not a bloody clue as to what you’re on about.

    Of course, most politically active Copts are aware that (i) they have productive alliances with the Brotherhood in the wanting Mubarek years and (ii) the systematic discrimination they face in legal and practical forms actually was extensively implemented under the Pseudo-Secular regimes, most particularly Mubarek’s Neo Mamlouks, which like the current military dictatorship rather specialised in facile double talk to fool persons like yourself.

    It remains the fact that while incompetent, deeply flawed and in the end deserving of being ousted at some level, the Brotherhood government played by the legal rulebook and when one compares with the free speech allowances at present (such as arrest of journos, including, yes, secular journos), was rather more democratic (noting the comparative).

    “And let’s not forget that the Muslim Brotherhood’s arm in the Palestinian Territories is Hamas, which is indisputably a terrorist group.”

    Hamas is a separate, Palestinian organization, with its own leadership, goals and decades of own-organization. It is not an “arm” of the Brotherhood. A principal founder spun out of the Brotherhood in the *1970s*. Using it as a smear on the Egyptian national organization is fairly stupid and bankrupt, although what I would expect from a cretin like you.

  54. Lounsbury says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Here it is actually in the Arabic: “الله غايتنا، والرسول قدوتنا، والقرآن دستورنا، والجهاد سبيلنا، والموت في سبيل الله أسمى أمانينا”
    Et alors?

    Are we supposed to be scared of a credo? Should I worry then about your New Hampshire ‘Live Free or Die’ ?

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