Egypt’s latest step away from democratic rule is putting on trial three al-Jazeera journalists for covering opposition political figures.
The three have so far been held in prison without bail for more than nine weeks. Al-Jazeera is known in the Middle East for its balanced coverage of events, including reporting based on the work of its correspondents based in Israel.
In the meantime, Egypt’s military leader, Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, proceeds toward having himself elected president in elections expected soon. His supporters have posted heroic photographs and posters of him all over Cairo and other cities. So far only one minor political figure in the nation of 81 million has indicated an intention to oppose him, so he is very likely to be elected by a large margin. The Muslim Brotherhood, which won the last elections, has been outlawed again.
Meanwhile, President Barack Obama’s administration continues to pretend that el-Sissi did not overthrow Egypt’s elected president, Mohammed Morsi, in a coup d’etat last July. To identify that duck as a duck by its quack and waddle would require by law Washington to cut off Egypt’s $1.2 billion in military aid, which it does not want to do. Egypt uses the aid to continue paying American military contractors for manufacturing the weapons it uses to stay in power.
The irony is that, in the end, America’s exchange of support for democracy in Egypt for supposed improved prospects of stability in the region probably won’t work. America’s deal presupposes that the Egyptian people will accept that the spring of democracy that resulted in free elections – even if some of them didn’t like the outcome – has run dry.
They probably won’t, and el-Sissi as president will face continuing resistance and the need to employ violence to suppress it – equaling unrest, not stability, in that pivotal nation.