The latest example of the hapless and sophomoric Obama administration approach to foreign policy is the suspension of military aid to Egypt. Who is being punished by this move? Who benefits?
Well, of course internally, the vastly unpopular Muslim Brotherhood gets a psychological boost because they can now believe if they just keep up the provocations and instigate more mass shootings of its gullible followers, it will increase the pressure on the Egyptian military regime.
It gives Islamic extremists throughout the Middle East, including those in Afghanistan, a boost because it proves that the United States will quickly abandon its allies for short-term ideological reasons. Those reasons we leave for now. Suffice it to say it is the outcome of an “Alice in wonderland” view of the Arab world and what our role should be.
Iran, Obama’s new love interest, will benefit because with a weakened Egyptian military, Iranian expansionism in the Gulf will not be contested.
While it could be argued that even in the best of times the Egyptian military was never capable of long range deployment, nevertheless a strong Egyptian military has always given the Gulf States a feeling of some security. The Gulf States know by now they no longer depend on the U.S.
The Saudi, UAE, Bahraini, and Kuwait fears of a Muslim Brotherhood threat or similar extremist organizations will be elevated. The impulse to accommodate Iranian demands will be overwhelming. Eventually the historic Iranian desire of turning the Gulf into an Iranian lake will be closer to reality.
Iraq is at a delicate stage in which the Shi’a leadership is trying to defeat a Sunni insurgency led by extremist organizations. The Iraqi government will also observe which way the wind is blowing and be much less apt to stand against Iranian encroachment in their political and cultural life. It will also exacerbate the Sunni- Shi’a chasm and lead to more bloodshed.
What are the ramifications for the Egyptian military? In a strictly conventional military sense very little. Although some observers think the suspension of US aid will have a severe impact because so much of almost 50% of the military aid goes for logistics and maintenance, both at which the Egyptians are very poor.
So much of our equipment will deteriorate. But my response is so what? When US military aid started arriving in Egypt, almost half of their Russian equipment was inoperable but that had no real impact on Egyptian security. What conventional enemy does Egypt face?
Only Israel which has been counting on a strong enough Egyptian army to close off the Sinai to anti-Israeli insurgents and armaments to Hamas.. In a scenario in which the Muslim brotherhood attempts an insurgency, the heavy armament supplied by the US and Russia is of little use anyway.
The really critical issue is that Egypt is the center of the Arab world, politically and culturally. It is also central to the Sunni Islamic world. It is important to Africa, particularly, North Africa, with Libya and Tunisia, in chaos. It sits astride the Suez Canal which is vital to the US and Western world, militarily, and in terms of oil.
By this action, we have further incurred the enmity of most of the Egyptian people and a significant number across the Arab world who saw the Egyptian regime as a bulwark against Islamic extremism.
It is very likely the Saudis and Gulf States will makeup the shortfall and the Egyptians, as the social media evidences, will turn to the Russians and Chinese with Saudi money.
We seem to always underestimate the ability of Arabs as well as Iranians to make their own way. It should be remembered that when we were ejected from Iran in the 70’s the gurus prophesized a collapse of the Iranian military. They did not and surprised a lot of experts and Saddam Hussein as well. The Egyptians can make it well enough without us.
In essence the relationship we have built up over 40 years will be weakened and our influence, and indirectly that of Israel, will be tenuous at best.