Egypt, WTF? (A Primer)
Egypt, as you’re probably aware, is a mess. Earlier this week the Egyptian military, on its second coup in two years, straight-up massacred members of the Muslim Brotherhood who were engaging in sit-ins to protest the deposal of President Mohamed Morsi. The latest counts have more than 600 dead and 4,200 wounded.
Yesterday President Obama condemned the violence and cancelled planned joint military exercises with the Egyptian military. He did not, however, cut off the $1.3 billion (with a b) the U.S. gives the military in aid, a move that hasn’t gone over all that well. This though the Brotherhood had reportedly accepted an international settlement plan, and though American and Western officials had urged military officials not to use force to dispel the sit-ins.
I spent yesterday afternoon chatting with a guy named David Faris, an associate professor of political science and director of international studies at Roosevelt University in Chicago. I first met Dave back in 2009, when I was news editor at Philadelphia City Paper and he a PhD student at the University of Pennsylvania who occasionally wrote for the paper. Dave is, quite simply, an expert on Egypt. It’s his primary research focus. He visited the country frequently both before and after the 2011 revolution. He wrote his dissertation on it. In May, his book, titled Dissent and Revolution in a Digital Age: Social Media, Blogging and Activism in Egypt, was released.
What follows is a transcript of our conversation, edited only for clarity. Parts get a bit wonky, but if you want to get up to speed on what’s really happening in Egypt, and understand why the money we send over there is fueling the killing, this is as good a primer as you’ll find.
(You don’t want to be one of those ill-informed jagoffs on Facebook, do you?)