by Iqbal Jassat
Egypt under the military dictatorship of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, has been rewarded yet again by the United States for being a faithful ally in America’s quest for dominance in the North African region straddling the Mediterranean.
Such dominance allows Israel to dictate conditions favorable to its political-military hegemony as is evident in the lockdown of the Gaza Strip from Egypt’s side at the Rafah border.
The announcement by the Trump regime that it is to restart joint war games follows the recent lavish red carpet treatment accorded to al-Sisi at the White House where praises were heaped on him for “fighting extremists”.
Known as ‘Bright Star’, the biannual military exercise that was cancelled in 2013 by former president Barack Obama to protest the mass murder of hundreds of civilians by the Sisi regime is scheduled to restart in September.
Although there was a freeze in relations between Obama and al-Sisi, it was largely symbolic and quickly gave way to the resumption of $1.3 billion US military aid, the shipment of F-16 fighter planes, Abrams tanks, Harpoon missiles and other weapons.
Between 2011 and 2013, Egypt underwent a series of hugely important events. From the popular uprising which saw the ouster of long-time dictator Hosni Mubarak, to the democratic election of Mohamed Mursi that was cut short by the military coup led by al-Sisi. These seismic changes—barring the results of a successful revolution flowing from the Arab Spring—have been catastrophic as is clearly seen in the current vice grip whereby Egyptian human rights are choked by al-Sisi.
That Trump (like his predecessors) displays disdain for civilized values and norms including fundamental human rights, is not in dispute. Indeed his triumphant rally of Arab despots hosted by Saudi war criminals, unending drone strikes, Yemen war and surge of US troops in Afghanistan, affirms militancy, albeit incoherently.
Operation Bright Star is part of America’s military footprint in Africa from the early 1980s. As in previous years we can expect hundreds if not thousands of US airborne troops dropped into the Egyptian desert and Marines storming the beaches.
While the African Union (AU) looks away in shameful silence, the most powerful military might of the West will yet again be intruding on African soil, courtesy of client-regimes such as Egypt to pursue failed policies under the cover of “counter terrorism operations”.
If Africa as a continent values its independence and freedom of its diverse populations, its leadership is obliged to ensure that its sovereignty is not violated.
Bending the rules as has been the case regarding Egypt by readmitting it as a member of the AU after suspending it due to the Sisi-led military coup, despite the democratically elected leader being jailed and facing execution, does not inspire confidence in the continent’s structures.
Neither does it say much of an Africa ostensibly determined to shrug off the legacy of colonialism, when its foremost symbol of power, the AU, walks away from ongoing efforts by civil rights movements across the continent to decolonize.
Egypt’s road to democracy was bulldozed and remains crushed. Popularly elected leaders, human rights activists, journalists and freedom lovers have either been killed or jailed. A military dictatorship, funded by fellow Arab dictators, supported by Israel and armed by America, is brazenly equipped to engage in war games.
All the while, behind the scenes maneuvering continues to inflict the harshest penalties on Gaza’s besieged population. Grand ideas of “relocating” Palestinians to the Sinai being part of the scheme invented by Israel’s fascist regime in cahoots with al-Sisi, Trump and the Saudi monarchy.
Having left a trail of devastation in Islam’s heartlands –from Baghdad to Damascus—the American juggernaut carries on pursuing havoc. Operation Bright Star may not be Trump’s invention, but reviving it is certainly not a bright idea.
Iqbal Jassat is Executive Member of Media Review Network, Johannesburg, South Africa