BLOG 252 May 11, 2015
I have always resisted the urge to blame “this, that, or the other thing” on the media. After all, their job is to report the facts whether we like the truth or not (though they conjecture about “possibilities” far too often). However, lately it seems Washington has learned how to manipulate the media by what the government says or doesn’t say. Case in point: Heard anything about Egypt lately?
The Obama administration has become largely indifferent to Egypt, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, and Egypt’s gulf allies. “Looking the other way” has pushed Sisi into the posture of going it alone. That is not good for Egypt or the USA. Obama appears reluctant to even acknowledge the entire regional dimension to the ISIS problem.
In addition to the recent revolutionary upheavals, Egypt struggles with overwhelming endemic problems. A population explosion in the midst of illiteracy with unemployment and staggering poverty drags the country in a downward spiral. Corruption on an epic scale pushes Sisi’s government further toward the edge. They have attempted to distance themselves from Gaza and Hamas by closing the Rafah crossing and destroying more than 2,000 contraband tunnels. Yet, Hamas is out there and a problem.
The times that I have been in Egypt have always impressed on me how almost impossible it would be to govern such a situation. Drinkable water has always been a problem. The old tourist joke was visit Egypt last on your tour of the Middle East because you will be going home sick. (Once you’ve been down that road, you won’t think it’s a joke).
Today, sporadic terrorist attacks still occur in Egypt (though the media never mentions it). Attempts to defeat Islamic insurgency in the Sinai have not been particularly successful and the situation has reached a stalemate. The problem is that no matter how many jihadist’s crazies they kill, more pour in through the vast mountainous and desert regions between Egypt and Libya (the border is 745 miles long). The recent beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians underscores the serious problems in that region. Moreover, Egypt along with Saudi Arabia must continue to worry about what is coming out of Iran.
The United States decoupled Iran’s terrorist activities from the negotiations over their pursuit of nuclear weapons. This procedure may have obtained an agreement but it didn’t slow down the shipment of weapons and missiles coming from Iran. Egypt has to worry about this turn of events.
America remains worried about the things that really count, like—did Tom Brady know about deflated footballs, –can the country survive David Lettermen leaving the late night show, –and what everyone will do for entertainment on Memorial Day weekend.
At the least, the West needs to listen to President Sisi and the needs he expresses. Certainly, there are many problems with military government rule in Egypt – but we’ve already seen the alternative when the Muslim Brotherhood came to power. That reminder should be sobering enough.
Don’t let the lack of coverage by the media keep you from paying attention to the situation in Egypt.