Egypt: Did the Raids Serve a Purpose?
By Hwaa Irfan
It is a matter of mind over matter when someone continues to talk in a manner that makes the perpetrator look innocent, and the perpetrated look guilty. That is the nature of U.S. official delivery of its foreign policy, especially when that policy has violated the soveriegnty of the country that it accuses.
The most recent news to hit the fan – ‘Egyptian forces raid of NGO offices in Cairo’ is just another incident that will bring 2011 to a close, and will not stop there.
If one just focuses on Egypt, the human rights abuses of the interim governing body of Egypt since the January 25th Revolution that ignited the ‘Arab Spring’ and NGO’s one can quite easily fall into the pattern of belief without questioning the incident further. After all, what does it matter to you or I, accept that if we do not, we accept anything we are being told. After all, what would one expect of Arabs, bypassing that human, and civil rights abuses are being perpetrated everyday by the perpetrator in this case, the U.S. on its own people let alone that of other countries. Putting aside the longstanding covert friendly relations between the two military powers, the resulting wrong is therefore placed squarely at the foot of the Egyptian governign body – The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, SCAF. Some may even say that the raid is to fall into favor with the nations anti-U.S. sentiment in order to create a more favorable light for SCAF, but if that is the case, still that is not the focus of attention here given the recent supply of crowd control supplies like tear gas from the U.S. SCAF was quick to apologize for investigating the possiblility of foreign aid when they were both established by another country – that’s another issue!
Seventeen Egyptian and foreign NGO’s were raided. What is of issue here are the NGO’s concerned:
- The National Democratic Institute – founded by former secretary of state Madeleine Albright
- The International Republican Institute, which is chaired by Republican senator John McCain
The first question asked here is, can these two organizations be deemed as NGO’s?
The last time I looked, NGO stands for non-governmental organizations, therefore can the NDI, and the IRI be deemed as NGO’s?
The NDI in Egypt is one of 65 branches globally, with the HQ in Washington registered as non-profit NGO that is funded by the U.S. State Department, USAID and private donations. So technically speaking it is an NGO. All one has to do is go to the IRI website to get this information. The website also tells us that both NDI and its ‘sister’ organization IRI was created by U.S. Congress in 1983. So one could safely assume that both organizations recieve continued funding from the same or similar sources. However they are both tools of the U.S. government, and as such the question remains to what extent do they remain to be NGO’s?
The same website informs its visitors that both the NDI and the IRI were created to form:
“…building blocks of democracy, training them to create political parties and monitor elections, and helping women run for political office and participate in civic life”.
So it can be safely said that both NDI and IRI were created to contribute to or interfere with the political process or to inject the American concept of democracy which with all intents and purposes is against a people’s democracy. Both NDI and IRI have board members that consists of former Secretaries of State, national security advisers, members of Congress, and even Clinton, Bush and Reagan administration officials. So what does that tell us?
Then there follows another question, given the great difficulty that SCAF has had taking on the responsibility of governance for which it is not equipped or trained to do, why is it that SCAF did not know any of the above or did they before raiding the premises of NDI and IRI? The problem is the statement made by the vice-head of IRI programs from the U.S., Thomas Garrett who states in response to the incident:
“We believe the work we do in Egypt is very transparent. For instance, a lot of the training materials we use are available on our website in Arabic. We have been interacting with the Egyptian government for the last several months, answering their questions about the source of our funding, which is the U.S. government; the types of things we intend to do in the country; our plans. And so we’re confused as to what prompted the raids.”
The NDI is also funded by the U.S. National Endowment for Democracy, which in 1991, one of the founders Allen Weinstein said to the Washington Post:
“A lot of what we do now was done covertly by the CIA 25 years ago.”
Propaganda Machine – Then if one reads several reports, one is presented with what is obviously designed for corporate media and ‘activists’ to spread and perpetuate, and therefore make everyone belief to be true…
On the IRI website NDI staff member, Leslie Campbell comments:
“The raid on the institute, as well as on other U.S., European and Egyptian democracy-support organizations, is unprecedented, even under former President Hosni Mubarak.”
“We are deeply concerned,” a State Department official told the Guardian, U.K., and according to the Guardian the IRI repeated to the Guardian that the raids were worse than took place under Egypt’s former dictator Hosni Mubarak…
“…an escalation of repression unheard of even during the Mubarak regime,” said president of another NGO office that was raided Freedom House, David Kramer to CNN.
I could go on, but it is the same mantra probably arising from IRI’s statement, but nontheless a mantra that has an agenda, which was unwittingly echoed by 28 Egyptian rights groups on Friday 29 December 2011 in their statement as using:
“Hosni Mubarak-era repressive tools” in waging an “unprecedented campaign” against pro-democracy organizations.
Then there is the threat of withdrawal of U.S$1.3bn (£843m) in military aid, which one doubts will follow through, but the threat is enough to press the panick button, probably to remind SCAF of its U.S. relations!
Then of course there is the focus on the U.S. NGO’s NDI, IRI and Freedom House response which as if they are U.S. sovereign territories, i.e. embassies which are free from investigation by directing the attention onto SCAF fear of criticism at a time when SCAF needs to repair its image with the people it governs. This focus negates that:
a) Foreign interference is a reality, not a conspiracy theory
b) Part of the investigation includes violations of Egyptian laws.
The U.S. has carried out the same raids on American based Muslim organizations the result of which was not being able to give charity as a religious duty.
The situation is not as clear cut as everyone would like to believe, including Egyptian NGOs, but the raids and the reactions to the raids have acheived one goal, to demonize SCAF further rightly or wrongly to speed up a SCAF step-down in favor of….!
Here is one rendition of the situation:
Beaumont, P. “US ‘deeply concerned’ after Egyptian forces raid NGO offices in Cairo.” http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/dec/29/us-egyptian-forces-raid-cairo
Dougherty, J. and Crawford, J. “IRI’s Tom Garrett Talks to CNN about the Raid of IRI’s Offices in Egypt.” http://www.iri.org/news-events-press-center/news/iris-tom-garrett-talks-cnn-about-raid-iris-offices-egypt
“Egypt Says It Will End NGO Raids, Return Seized Items.” http://edition.cnn.com/2011/12/30/world/africa/egypt-ngos/index.html
Fam, M. “Bloomberg News Covers Raid of IRI’s Offices in Egypt.” http://www.iri.org/news-events-press-center/news/bloomberg-news-covers-raid-iris-offices-egypt