What has happened to Egypt? The dead are being called “terrorists”, the word the Israelis use of their enemies. The word the Americans use. The Egyptian press talks of “clashes”, as if armed Muslim Brothers fought the police. Yesterday morning, I met an old Egyptian friend who said he looked at his country’s flag and began to cry.
I can understand why. Why did so many die? Who killed them? There are many Egyptians today, anti-Morsi people, to be sure, who told me yesterday that they could not believe this, that the Brotherhood folk were all holding guns, as one was indeed holding a Kalashnikov near the hospital – a man I saw – but the truth is that the police shot down the unarmed men and not a single policeman died. This was a massacre. This was a mass killing. There is no other word for it.
And we hear the words of our beloved ministers. Take William Hague, who asked the Egyptian authorities to refrain from violence because “now is the time for dialogue, not confrontation”.
Oh dearie, dearie. Not words he would use to the Syrian government, of course. It really is just a bit much when our Egyptian friends use so much fire power on their enemies.
Had Bashar al-Assad’s chums killed so many protesters in the streets of Damascus, the UN would be echoing to the sound of our horror, our fury knowing no bounds, our disgust. But of course, this is Cairo, not Damascus, and our words must be tempered to our friends, not least the general who runs this country. And watch out! The Egyptian Interior Minister has told his people that the Brotherhood sit-in at the Rabaa mosque “God permitting, must end. We hope that they come to their senses and join the political process.” But didn’t they do that when they won the election? General Mohamed Ibrahim, the Interior Minister, said only 21 Brotherhood members had been killed. So why did I count 37 bodies on the floor of the hospital yesterday morning?
But what is the “political process” in Egypt? If you can take part in an election and win – and then be deposed by a general (a guy called Abdel-Fatah al-Sisi) – what is the future of politics in Egypt? The West may want to love Egypt, but it is now being run by a very tough general who doesn’t seem to care very much what we think. He realises that Egypt’s relations with Israel are far more important than any coup d’etat in Cairo and that the preservation of Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel is worth far more than any pretence at democracy in Cairo.
And we – in the West – are going to go along with this. Mr Obama has told Egyptians that he the US “will always be a strong partner to the Egyptian people as they shape their path to the future”. And the Egyptian people – wait for this – had been “given a chance to put the country’s post-revolution transition back on track.” So there you have it! The military coup d’etat was a “post-revolution transition”. Forget the 37 dead I saw in the hospital on Saturday. Forget the speech that Obama made in the Cairo University building opposite another Brotherhood encampment four years ago. We are in a post-revolution transition. Call Lenin.