Why Obama will Quietly Back SCAF

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Credit: Mosha’ab Alzamy/Al Jazeera

 “Crowds mass in Tahrir against military ‘coup‘” declares Al Jazeera English. In a recent post at Political Violent @ a Glance I discussed the

Obama administration-supported coup that aborted what might have been a popular overthrow of a dictator.

With the proverbial “ball in play” this weekend it is reasonable to speculate about how the Obama Administration will respond to the efforts of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) to keep the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) from meaningfully governing the country. Two months ago the International Crisis Group released an assessment titled Lost in Transition: The World According to Egypt’s SCAF that offered the pablum that the SCAF and MB had too much to lose not to cooperate. Regardless of whether the Obama Administration was swayed by arguments of that type, it is not difficult to figure out that it will quietly support the SCAF’s efforts to bar MB. In early February 2011 much was made of Obama’s frustration with the State Department’s reluctance to publicly call for Mubarak to step down. Yet, Secretary Clinton’s remarks on 27 January 2011 remain an important clue:

In a statement after Tuesday’s clashes, she urged restraint but described the Egyptian government as “stable” and “looking for ways to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people.”

Ross Douhat, writing in The New York Times on 7 February 2011 put it plainly and clearly:

the administration’s real goal has been to dispense with Mubarak while keeping the dictator’s military subordinates very much in charge. If the Obama White House has its way, any opening to democracy will be carefully stage-managed by an insider like Omar Suleiman, the former general and Egyptian intelligence chief who’s best known in Washington for his cooperation with the C.I.A.’s rendition program. This isn’t softheaded peacenik dithering. It’s cold-blooded realpolitik.

That is even more true just over four months from a Presidential election: team Obama is not about to hand the Republican Party the issue of having lost Egypt to Islamists (or, as some in the right wing echo chamber perfer, “Islamo-fascist terrorists”).  

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About Will H. Moore

I am a political science professor who also contributes to Political Violence @ a Glance and sometimes to Mobilizing Ideas . Twitter: @WilHMoo
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