John Kerry's bland visit to Egypt

Nader Bakkar , Friday 8 Mar 2013

Kerry's first visit to Egypt as US state secretary yielded few – if any – tangible results

Yes, I dare to describe newly-appointed US State Secretary John Kerry's visit to Egypt as 'bland.' I also dare to assume that he failed to discover anything that isn't included in the regular reports that his embassy sends him about the state of our government, the opposition and the current state of uncertainty looming over Egypt's political stage.

He also failed to provide any new suggestions for helping us out of the current situation – just a series of bland and featureless meetings with a handful of businessmen who have not yet (as far as I know) disclosed their identities.

This comes at a time when he could have met with an economic or ministerial group if he was really interested in Egypt's economy. He also conducted meetings with civil society groups, raising yet more questions about US funding for those organisations.

There was also another meeting with certain political figures who (with all due respect) have no clue about the criteria by which they were chosen or the extent of their street credibility, with the exception of seasoned politician Ayman Nour (although I totally oppose his suggestions for an 'Egyptian Marshall Plan').

No one knows the nature of what they said to Mr. Kerry, while the latter's meeting with Egypt's defence minister provoked the feelings of everyone by the uncomfortable connotations such a meeting implies.

It is important to understand Washington's nature as a 'pragmatic' capital that has a unique style in which principles, at least when it comes to policy, lie at the very bottom of its priorities. It never cared about the old dictatorships in Egypt and Tunisia – or any other country – as long as its own interests were safe and sound.

From time to time it had voiced 'objections' about those totalitarian regimes, simply to beautify its image and obscure its own contradictions in front of its people and the peoples of the world. Or it might simply have been working to gain a larger area for its hegemony in which to impose itself on other countries' affairs under the banner of 'spreading democracy.'

After Washington was taken by surprise by the Arab Spring revolutions, it began quickly losing ground as its 'men' in the region – chief of whom was Egypt's Mubarak – began falling one after the other.

But Washington quickly absorbed the shock and began changing its tactics in an attempt to understand the nature of the change that had overtaken the Arab world, drawing up new policies aimed at protecting its vital interests.

The Americans really don't care about who comes to power in Egypt, as long as no one attempts to tamper with their vital regional interests – not least of which is the maintenance of Israel's security.

Up until this very moment, Washington much prefers to deal with an existing legal regime – even one that conflicts with the opposition and even, from time to time, appears troubled and confused – as long as that regime can be counted upon to maintain the status quo, rather than wait for a 'chaos' that no one knows whether or not will be 'creative' in nature! 

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