Interfering in Egypt III

Today’s raid on various NGO and democracy promotion groups is notable for what it left out : any organization that receives money form Qatar or Saudi Arabia. These two rivals are actively funding the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis. Unlike the West, they do not believe in transparency, and their efforts are not channeled through any easily identifiable organizations.

The raid on the NGO offices, the selection of the specific organizations, and the manner in which the raid was conducted are all very disturbing. It indicates a twitchy and ham-fisted military.  It is part and parcel of the general incompetence displayed by SCAF since they were entrusted with executive power. It is tempting to see the raid as ominous and part of a larger plot. But it is useless in engage in any guessing about SCAF and its purposes.

It is perhaps more productive to identify why we are at this point. The funding of the MB & the Salafis is via channels provided by Egyptian expatriates, essentially doing an end-run around any charge that they are “foreign hands”. Xenophobia and paranoia still tinge much of Egyptian politics. Of course, expatriate Egyptians in the West can attempt similar feats to assist nascent democratic and liberal forces. Two factors stand in the way. First,  the West is far more attractive as a permanent home earning the loyalty of expatriates and therefore weakening the link to Egypt, especially since the general thugishness of various opposing forces extracts a high price for involvement. Second, most Western countries extend citizenship to emigrants and emigres, which is not the case in the Gulf countries. This further weakens the connection to Egypt, as the emigrant population is far more integrated into Western society and far more appreciative of the liberty accorded it.

These are the unvarnished facts.

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