The Passionate Attachment

America's entanglement with Israel

NGOs in Egypt: Promoting Democracy or Destabilization?

with 6 comments

In a sneering report on the Egyptian investigation into foreign “democracy-promoting” NGOs, the Wall Street Journal opines:

In describing their evidence, most of which came from raids on the NGO offices in late December, the judges seemed to allude to a well-worn Egyptian conspiracy theory, often peddled by populist politicians, that the U.S. hopes to stoke sectarian conflict in Egypt as a prelude to an armed invasion.

The justices said they had found maps of Egypt marked with four divisions—a thinly veiled reference to supposed American plans to divide the country into competing religious and ethnic fiefdoms.

It appears that the writer is not familiar with the Yinon Plan. Back in 1982, Israeli strategist Oded Yinon wrote “A Strategy for Israel in the 1980s,” which advocated the dissolution of all existing Arab states along ethnic or sectarian lines:

Egypt, in its present domestic political picture, is already a corpse, all the more so if we take into account the growing Moslem-Christian rift. Breaking Egypt down territorially into distinct geographical regions is the political aim of Israel in the Nineteen Eighties on its Western front. Egypt is divided and torn apart into many foci of authority. If Egypt falls apart, countries like Libya, Sudan or even the more distant states will not continue to exist in their present form and will join the downfall and dissolution of Egypt. The vision of a Christian Coptic State in Upper Egypt alongside a number of weak states with very localized power and without a centralized government as to date, is the key to a historical development which was only set back by the peace agreement but which seems inevitable in the long run.

Two of the NGOs — the International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute — are affiliated with the National Endowment for Democracy, which also funds a third, the International Center for Journalists. Carl Gershman, the longtime president of the National Endowment for Democracy, formerly worked in the “research department” of the pro-Israel Anti-Defamation League. The fourth NGO, Freedom House, has no shortage of pro-Israelis on its board of trustees, including its vice-chair, former AIPAC executive director, Thomas Dine.

Perhaps the Egyptians have good reason to be wary of so many Israel partisans “promoting democracy” in their country.


Written by Maidhc Ó Cathail

February 9, 2012 at 9:45 am

Posted in Uncategorized

6 Responses

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  1. Elsewhere in the WSJ article someone suggests that the generals cannot understand why there is still unrest now that the MBs are supporting the government. Posed the other way round, this question becomes “why shouldn’t the US be happy with the generals and the MBs?” Surely, these are what they wanted. Their chances of imposing a more pro-Israel regime are low indeed. The Egyptian MBs can be expected to end up doing what the Sauds tell them to do. Even Hamas (which is technically the Palestine MB branch) has quietly evacuated its leadership from Damascus and moved it to Egypt, Jordan and various Gulf states. Is this theatre, aimed at giving Tantawi a chance to look anti-American and thus improve his popularity among Egyptians? Or is it a case of imperial greed, the US not being satisfied with 90% cooperation and demanding 100%, as sometimes happens?


    February 10, 2012 at 3:44 am

  2. Part of the answer is in the title. But I think Yinon provides another key part of it:

    In the course of the Nineteen Eighties, the State of Israel will have to go through far-reaching changes in its political and economic regime domestically, along with radical changes in its foreign policy, in order to stand up to the global and regional challenges of this new epoch. The loss of the Suez Canal oil fields, of the immense potential of the oil, gas and other natural resources in the Sinai peninsula which is geomorphologically identical to the rich oil-producing countries in the region, will result in an energy drain in the near future and will destroy our domestic economy: one quarter of our present GNP as well as one third of the budget is used for the purchase of oil.9 The search for raw materials in the Negev and on the coast will not, in the near future, serve to alter that state of affairs.

    (Regaining) the Sinai peninsula with its present and potential resources is therefore a political priority which is obstructed by the Camp David and the peace agreements. […] and we will have to act in order to return the situation to the status quo which existed in Sinai prior to Sadat’s visit and the mistaken peace agreement signed with him in March 1979.

    Israel has two major routes through which to realize this purpose, one direct and the other indirect. The direct option is the less realistic one because of the nature of the regime and government in Israel as well as the wisdom of Sadat who obtained our withdrawal from Sinai, which was, next to the war of 1973, his major achievement since he took power. Israel will not unilaterally break the treaty, neither today, nor in 1982, unless it is very hard pressed economically and politically and Egypt provides Israel with the excuse to take the Sinai back into our hands for the fourth time in our short history. What is left therefore, is the indirect option. The economic situation in Egypt, the nature of the regime and its pan-Arab policy, will bring about a situation after April 1982 in which Israel will be forced to act directly or indirectly in order to regain control over Sinai as a strategic, economic and energy reserve for the long run. Egypt does not constitute a military strategic problem due to its internal conflicts and it could be driven back to the post 1967 war situation in no more than one day.

    Maidhc Ó Cathail

    February 10, 2012 at 4:04 am

  3. Justin has produced another broadside on the Egyptian NGOs today, still based on the assumption that the “Arab Spring” itself was originally spontaneous. There also I have asked the question: how do we know all this is not just a PR stunt to make Tantawi and the MBs look righteously anti-American? It’s a worthwhile question, and your answer is also a worthwhile answer.


    February 10, 2012 at 5:27 am

  4. PS: Justin is unlikely to offer the argument you have just offered, because it implies that Tel Aviv is writing the whole of Washington’s regional policy. But I have one objection to your argument, which is that not even the US, with the whole of NATO and the GCC in tow, can really expect to run full-scale military interventions in Syria and Iran and Egypt almost simultaneously. They have to deal with countries one at a time. In fact, they have to as far as possible ensure that while they are dealing with Syria, and then with Iran, other full-scale military interventions do not impose themselves. And the collapse of Egypt as a state would certainly necessitate a full-scale military intervention, because the Egyptian armed forces would become a real menace.


    February 10, 2012 at 5:43 am

  5. If, as appears to be the case, Tel Aviv is writing the whole of Washington’s regional policy, they may not be too concerned about the likelihood of US imperial overstretch. And if a military intervention is “required” to curb the Egyptian military, it will most likely be undertaken by Israel. As Yinon so arrogantly put it, “it could be driven back to the post 1967 war situation in no more than one day.”

    Maidhc Ó Cathail

    February 10, 2012 at 7:14 am

  6. […] pattern of this plan may be obvious, but Azadian is one of the very few analysts to notice it. Share […]

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