A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Friday, March 9, 2012

Tawfiq Okasha and Today's Clashes at US Embassy in Cairo

A rabble-rousing right-wing talk show host has been stirring up trouble. No, not that one: don't be so US-centric. I'm talking about Egypt's Tawfiq Okasha, who seems to have provoked today's clashes between pro-SCAF and anti-SCAF protesters outside the US Embassy in Cairo. Okasha, who as publicly supported the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and denounced the release of the detained US and other foreign NGO workers, urged protests against the US Embassy and support for SCAF. (Yes, SCAF gets $1.3 billion from the US annually. Yes, there's no way the NGO workers could have left Egypt without SCAF signing off on it, but since no one has publicly admitted to lifting the travel ban, it must have been a plot. Don't try to be too analytical here: it will give you headaches.) Anyway, a pro-SCAF, anti=American protest assembles outside the Embassy, demanding the "deportation" of the US Ambassador (to Israel, since Israel had to enter in somewhere here).

Now, today is also the anniversary of March 9 last year, when the Army broke up the Tahrir sit-ins and carried out the infamous "virginity tests". So the anti-SCAF revolutionaries were also out in force, at Tahrir. Those readers who know Cairo will know the US Embassy compound is in Garden City, just a block or two off Tahrir Square. So the pro-SCAF and anti-SCAF protest crowds were in close proximity, and both sides have anti-American elements in them. Then Okasha showed up outside the Embassy:
News of Okasha’s arrival infuriated some Tahrir protesters, who headed to the embassy to voice their objections. At first, minor skirmishes broke out between the two sides, but later in the evening, clashes were reignited and escalated to rock throwing, resulting in minor injuries.
The general tone of Okasha and his supporters is captured in the Daily News Egypt report linked above:
Okasha had addressed protesters near the embassy, saying, “The American ambassador was trained by American Intelligence on America’s plan to divide the Arab countries. The United States plans to split Arab countries from 22 to 44.”
His supporters demanded the deportation of the US ambassador, chanting: “We want the ambassador out of our country and we support the SCAF,” “Field Marshal Tantawi, deport the American ambassador to Israel” and “We don’t need the American aid.”
Ashraf Galal, a plant manager, told Daily News Egypt, “Everyone should know that the American embassy accommodates a criminal mob aiming to divide Egypt. America is a county of piracy and we are here to pressure the embassy to stop interfering in Egyptian affairs.”
“I demand cutting all ties with the United States; the current disorder among Egyptians is one of its plans” Galal added.
Yehia Mohamed, a former army officer, said, “America meddled in Egypt’s judicial system by allowing the release of the accused Americans. The ambassador is helping Israel destroy Egypt.”
The often heard interpretation of everything that has happened in the past year as being part of a cunning US and Israeli plot. Though these quotes leave out  both Iran and the Freemasons, who are sometimes also invoked. (I know: why would the US and Israel scheme to bring the Muslim Brotherhood to power? Ah, but if it makes no sense at all, that proves just how insidious a plot it really is.)

Some video from Daily News Egypt:

Blogger Zeinobia has more on today's events as well.

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