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EP PODCASTSXML

February 11, 2011

In Search Of Egypt

Egyptian flagI worry about the fate of violent insurrections (don't kid yourselves, Egyptian mobs are not non-violent). I worry about young, educated demonstrators with an overwrought passion for U.S. government support (it seems inauthentic). I worry that without an Arab political theorist (alive or dead), it's impossible to ring the changes on democratic institutions. I worry about whether one way or another the Egyptian state apparatus may prevail (we shouldn't inadvertently — or covertly — aid and abet a military coup). To quell my worries I turned to the eminent Middle East scholar Dr. Roger Owen. He likes what he sees and I'm glad that he does. But the situation is so fraught I hesitate to declare victory. All I know is, Egyptians should sort this mess out for themselves. Total runtime thirty three minutes. Look before you leap!

Listen

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Comments

Absolutely superb — thank you!

Fascinating interview, but too short!

I have a question for Prof. Owen.

The rise of the Young Officers has always puzzled me a great deal. Why did it succeed?

The Egypt of King Farouk had a certain political pluralism, but one that was overseen by British Imperial authorities.

I have been told that an important reason the Egyptian army swung behind the Young Officers was because the army had lost confidence in the monarchy as a result of the severe logistical problems that it had to fight under in the war with Israel. These problems were blamed on the King.

Yet even if one concedes that the army was a festering pot of insubordination, given what I imagine was the preponderant British influence in Egypt at the time, how was it possible that this coup succeeded? There were large numbers of British troops in Egypt to watch the Egyptian army were there not?

In Malaya and Kenya, the British had shown themselves determined not to withdraw unless it was on their terms. Yet British influence declined precipitously in Egypt following the ascension of Nasser. How was Egypt different?

Perhaps the British were ejected from Egypt by the US? The early Nasser years saw very strong US influence in Egypt. The CIA provided significant numbers of former German officers to train Nasser's intelligence services (come to think of it, those Germans began arriving before the coup).

[It was too short, but that was due mostly to my work requirements for turning it around between when we talked on Tuesday afternoon and Friday morning. I'll pass your questions along to Prof. Owen. Thanks! g.]

Israel didn't and doesn't like Arab nationalism, Nasser was pro-Soviet Union; on both counts US no longer likes Nasser. Good-bye Nasser.

Henry,

That's strange...Nasser gave sanctuary to Saddam Hussein and other Iraqi Baath Party leaders after they tried and failed to overthrow the pro-Soviet General Kassem in 1958. But back in 1956 US-Egypt relations should have broken down because of the US's refusal to support Nasser's plans for the Aswan Dam?

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