Hillary Clinton’s visit to Egypt will not be an easy one; rather it will take place amidst a turbulent political atmosphere that no American official has experienced in previous decades.
One source of tension surrounding the visit is that it comes at a time of heated internal unrest, leading to deep polarizations among various political forces.
The US administration has sent is Secretary of State to visit the Egyptian capital at time when America’s political wager is at a historic crossroads.
The US administration is changing its wager from gambling on the military, which ruled Egypt since the 1952 revolution, to gambling on the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood.
This new choice has an impact on the old ally (the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF)); a force which the sun is setting on, and on the Muslim Brotherhood; a force which is now shining bright! Between the sunrise and sunset of these emerging and fading forces, Hillary Clinton comes at a very delicate juncture in the conflict between the two sides.
As Clinton comes to Egypt there are numerous constitutional, legal, populist and media disputes, almost reaching the extent of a bloody conflict.
Clinton is visiting a country where half of the electorate voted against the victorious Muslim Brotherhood candidate, who was supported by the US administration.
As Clinton’s visit approaches there is almost a sense of certainty among SCAF that the US Secretary of State’s trip aims to support America’s new ally and provide US backing to the Muslim Brotherhood’s desire, through a new presidential decree, to force SCAF generals into retirement, instead appointing Brotherhood leaders to high profile positions in the general intelligence services, state security, and the ministries of justice, foreign affairs, interior and defense.
This would be a political knockout blow if it had US blessing. It would open the door wide open in Egypt for three possibilities: The long and stable rule of the Muslim Brotherhood, a military coup within a matter of days, or the country descending into a state of permanent chaos.
The recent comments from the White House and US State Department about the Egyptian power struggle and attempts to administer powers between the new elected president, with his democratic legitimacy, and SCAF, with its constitutional grounding, can only be interpreted as America’s new inclination towards the Muslim Brotherhood. This has put the Egyptian military as a whole, and not only senior leaders, in a heightened state of concern, high alert and suspicion regarding American intentions.
All this makes Egypt’s generals very confused, considering the reassurances they received only two weeks ago from their counterparts in the Pentagon, compared to the provocative statements now being administered by the US State Department.
Who should they believe: the generals of the Pentagon or the US Secretary of State?