After yesterday’s delightfully drenching downpours, Koko and I headed out beneath a smattering of stars and that brilliant beacon, Venus. The brightening sky was streaked with gray and stained with scarlet, and the ground had that smooshy feel that follows a good soaking rain.
We were on our way back when we ran into my neighbor Andy, who asked: “Did you hear Mubarak resigned?”
I hadn’t. But as I told Andy, it’s amazing that it took the U.S. this long to pressure its puppet into stepping down, considering the kind of economic influence we have over that nation. I recently read a piece on ProPublic.org that stated:
Egypt gets the most U.S. foreign aid of any country except for Israel. (This doesn't include the money spent on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.) The amount varies each year and there are many different funding streams, but U.S. foreign assistance to Egypt has averaged just over $2 billion every year since 1979, when Egypt struck a peace treaty with Israel following the Camp David Peace Accords, according to a Congressional Research Service report from 2009.
That average includes both military and economic assistance, though the latter has been in decline since 1998, according to CRS.
Wow. That’s a lot of dough. Just think of how many social programs in America could be boosted with that sort of annual infusion. But don’t worry, we — or rather, Israel — get something in return. As the article continued, citing a 2009 U.S. embassy cable recently released by WikiLeaks:
President Mubarak and military leaders view our military assistance program as the cornerstone of our mil-mil relationship and consider the USD 1.3 billion in annual FMF as "untouchable compensation" for making and maintaining peace with Israel. The tangible benefits to our mil-mil relationship are clear: Egypt remains at peace with Israel, and the U.S. military enjoys priority access to the Suez Canal and Egyptian airspace.
As the article noted, the aid is given ”without conditions,” in terms of human rights. And despite our rhetoric about wanting to bring democracy to Egypt, or anywhere else for that matter, even Mubarak was “deeply skeptical of the US role in democracy promotion” and U.S. funding is limited to NGOs registered with the government, which excludes most human rights organizations.
So the people have risen up and thrown the bum out on what is, interestingly, the 32nd anniversary of the fall of another American puppet, the shah of Iran.
The crowds are celebrating and jubilant, justifiably heady with a feeling of liberation and victory after overcoming the fear barrier and taking to the streets for 18 days of unprecedented mass protests.
But with Mubarak handing control over to the military — a breach of the Egyptian constitution, which specifies the speaker of parliament should take over — and the U.S anxious to re-assert its power and influence in the region, it remains unclear whether this is truly the end of an era, or merely another "meet the new boss, same as the old boss" American-orchestrated transition.