America’s ambivalent reaction to the Egyptian military coup last week belies the long-standing ties between the American and Egyptian militaries in general and the close US ties to new junta leader Gen. Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi in particular.
Sissi’s rise from a relatively anonymous one-star general to the head of the military and now the de facto head of state came after studies at the US Army War College, and the perception of Sissi as “US-friendly” was a big part in getting him into the Defense Ministry, in succeeding former junta head Field Marshal Tantawi, and has left the Obama Administration entirely comfortable with the prospect of military rule in Egypt.
Indeed, the coup is in many ways made in American in general, with US training focusing during the Mubarak era on keeping “Islamic extremism” stifled by force. Is it any wonder that when a once-banned Islamist party won the election, it struggled to keep the military comfortable and fell in less than a year?
In that sense the US Congressional support for the coup isn’t surprising, and with lecturers at the war college openly expressing hope that Sissi’s coup “could set an example” for the rest of the region on how to oppose democratically elected “radicals,” it is no wonder that Egyptian protesters see an American hand in all of this.