Revamping the Nixon Doctrine

Kagan and Dunne on the restoring of full levels of military aid to Egypt:

Unfortunately the idea that Sissi will be an effective ally against Islamic terrorists is misguided. He has, in fact, become one of the jihadists’ most effective recruiting tools. The simple truth is that, since Sissi took power, the frequency of terrorist attacks in Egypt has soared; there have been more than 700 attacks over 22 months, as opposed to fewer than 90 in the previous 22 months. Harder to measure is the number of young people radicalized by Sissi’s repression, but we can assume it is significant and growing. A well-regarded Egyptian rights organization estimates that 42,000 political prisoners are being held; torture and sexual assault in the course of arrest or detention reportedly are rampant. There has been no accountability for the mass killings of 2013. Amnesty International listed Egypt as one of the top two countries issuing death sentences, with 509 people condemned in 2014.
. . .
In this environment, is it surprising that reports surface regularly about the trend of radicalization of Egyptian youth, including previously peaceful Islamists? Sissi’s brutal actions speak far louder than his few words about reforming Islam; to believe that he, or the religious institutions of his government, can have a positive impact on young people susceptible to radicalization is beyond wishful thinking. It would be laughable if it were not dangerous self-delusion.
. . .
We are back on the same old course in Egypt. It’s the Nixon Doctrine all over again, and we are falling prey to the same illusions that dictatorship equals stability, that brutal repression is the answer to radicalism. We lionize Sissi just as we lionized the shah, Mubarak and the other Middle East dictators before him. He is our guy, right up until the day his regime collapses. Geopolitical godsend? Try geopolitical time bomb.

The most important point they make is that unblocking the blocked portion of the military aid was not really necessary for counter-terrorism operations, as is frequently argued by the pro-Sisi crowd. Egypt already gets all sorts of counter-terrorism aid, it did not need the unblocked F16s and tank kits for that purpose. I suspect it's much more about the symbolism, especially in the context of many of the traditional allies of the US (the SADDAM - Sunni Arab Dominated Dictatorships Against the Mullahs) anxiety about the Iran nuclear deal. On the other hand, they do not mention the change in cashflow provisions in the way the aid is administered. In any case, I am not sure the aid levels matter as much as political measures – the most damaging thing the Obama administration has done is to embrace the new regime as building a democracy (as John Kerry, notably, has done.) 

By the way, you really have to read the Bret Stephens piece they reference as an example of the Sisimania in the US – it's a spectacular piece of brown-nosing.

Too late for reform

I like Michele Dunne — she has been consistent for a decade on Egypt, and strikes the right tone here. I remember we sat together a couple of months ago and she laughed at the idea that Omar Suleiman could be a transition figure for Egypt. Here she argues that the US should not be backing Suleiman, it should be backing bottom-up transition.

Too Late for Reform Now - Carnegie Endowment for International Peace:

"One of the most striking features of recent U.S. policy toward the Middle East has been that it often appeared out of touch with current realities to the point of being anachronistic—almost quaint. The dogged push for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, for example, flew in the face of truths including the facts that Prime Minister Netanyahu had no interest in reaching an agreement and Palestinian President Abbas was so weakened by the Fatah-Hamas rift that he would be unable to reach an agreement even if a good offer were put on the table. The most recent example of this unreality is U.S. calls for ‘reform’ and ‘national dialogue’ in Egypt in response to the escalating uprising.
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Links for 08.20.09

En Egypte, l'hébreu, in cha' Allah! | Very interesting feature on Hebrew call center in Cairo, doing Microsoft Windows activation for Israelis and the reactions its customers get ("You khare khegyptian and you speak khebrew?") [French] ✪ Mohammad Dahlan (MohammadDahlan) on Twitter | Another funny fake: "As'ad abukhalil LYING AGAIN. I stay n Cairo not bcuz I scared of my people but because I have medical condition & must eat KFC 4 every meal" ✪ Abdelmonem Said - Road to Mideast Progress Runs Through Cairo - | Said, presenting the Egyptian govt view. Or one of its views. ✪ » The Egypt we have Middle East Strategy at Harvard | Steve Cook and others think Hosni pwnd Barack: "a meeting that is notable for its general lack of newsworthiness." ✪ US complains to Israel on Palestinian-American entry rules - Yahoo! News | Discrimination against Pal-Americans "unnaceptable."
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