Don’t harbour any illusions about Egypt’s military regime



One sign particularly struck my fancy. It read: “I am not from the Brotherhood but they are my brothers.” It was carried by a young woman at a 200-strong protest rally in Auckland’s Aotea Square yesterday.

The young woman’s message was along the same lines as my speech to the rally, attended mainly by Egyptian New Zealanders, and others from Middle Eastern countries.

It is no longer a question of whether or not we agree with the Moslem Brotherhood. When people are being massacred by a military regime for exercising their democratic right to protest, then we must speak out. We must stand with them.

The brutal military crackdown is sliding Egypt back to the dark days of the Mubarak regime.

Unfortunately, many liberal-minded Egyptians were hoodwinked into thinking that the 3 July military coup would put Egypt on a better path to democracy. They had criticized the Morsi government for being intolerant and exclusive in the way it ruled. However to choose a military regime over a flawed, democratically elected government was a fatal error.

Democracy in all its aspects is fast disappearing in Egypt as the military shoots down Brotherhood supporters outside mosques, manipulates the media, and talks about banning the Brotherhood altogether.

Driving the Brotherhood back underground again (as it was in Mubarak’s time) would be a disaster. In 1992 the Algerian military deposed an elected Islamist government, and thousands were killed in the armed conflict which followed.

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There has been an alarming reluctance among Western nations to call the military takeover by its right name, a “coup”. Until this week Western criticism of the coup leaders has been muted. Last Thursday (six weeks after the coup) our Foreign Minister Murray McCully finally put out a media statement expressing his “strong condemnation” of “the use of military force against civilians.” Other Western governments have now done likewise, and the United States has cancelled Bright Star, a joint US/Egyptian military exercise. However, if the US was seriously opposed to the military massacres it would halt its aid to the Egyptian armed forces, presently running at $US1.3 billion a year.

We read in an Israeli media outlet, Ynetnews that “The US is in no hurry to stop its aid to Egypt, which would severely damage its relations with the Egyptian army. The Egyptians allow the Americans to move their military forces, quickly and almost without warning, over Egyptian skies and the Suez Canal, which is a necessity for its activities in the war on terror in the Horn of Africa, the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan, and the area of Israel and the Gaza Strip.” For the Obama administration, its own military interests come before the lives of the innocent people being gunned down in the streets of Cairo and other Egyptian cities.


  1. I agree entirely, Keith. What I can’t figure out though is why countries in the region seem to have only two settings: brutal dictatorship, usually supported clandestinely or othertwise by the US; or fundamentalist Sharia-type rule. Killing people is never the answer, but are these nations ever going to find the middle ground?

  2. Nonsense. The Arab Spring was a disaster and it was always obvious it would bring fundamentalist Islamic regimes to power as happened in Egypt and to a degree in Turkey. Libya etc. In the Middle East the military often supports relatively relaxed western values and defends middle class interests. Majority democratic rule in the Middle East is inclined to result in suppression of western lifestype and sexual freedoms. Womens rights and sexual and press freedom are sometimes more important than democratic control and use of violence to suppess the Islamic brotherhood is justified. Obama made a mistake in criticising the military coup which is in the greater interest of intelligent and beautiful people in Egypt.

  3. It is shocking what is going on in Cairo and Alexandria and other places in Egypt. Yes, it seems the senior military bosses had this planned all along, to play off the opposing forces, to declare a state of emergency and then take control again, to run the show and protect their own.

    Now Mubarak has been released also, what an bizarre twist. Is there any chance of any justice and fair trial in Egypt, I question it?

    I am not a supporter of islamists and radicals of such mentality, but like Keith Locke, I raise the concern about democracy not being listened to and not being respected. We may not like the majority vote in Egypt or some other countries, but provided the Muslim Brotherhood and others abide by the law, and get the votes to form government and appoint a president, it must be respected.

    I am deeply concerned about Egypt, same as what goes on in other countries in the region. The Arab Spring movement appears to have been hijacked, manipulated and thus destroyed. What a shame.

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