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Egypt: Frank Wisner and the Nexus of US Interests
- February 8 - Envoy to Egypt Frank Wisner stated this weekend that “President Mubarak’s continued leadership is critical.”
Chatterjee is a regular columnist for the Guardian. He has used documents obtained via the Sunlight Foundation and WikiLeaks to highlight the nature of the relationship between the U.S. government and American firms and the Mubarak regime. He recently wrote the piece “Egypt’s military-industrial complex,” which states: “The Livingston Group [of Bob Livingston, former chairman of the appropriations committee in the U.S. House of Representatives] made the largest number of contacts with the U.S. government for the Egyptians to make sure that this money [from the U.S. Congress to the Egyptian regime] continued to flow, but they were not the only ones. Tony Podesta, the brother of a former White House chief of staff, and Toby Moffett, a former Democratic Congressman, joined forces with Livingston to create the PLM Group to represent Egypt in Washington, according to foreign-agent records at the Justice Department. Sunlight records show that the joint venture was paid $1.1 million a year. …
“Nor is PLM the only Washington lobbyist for the Egyptian government. Frank Wisner, the former U.S. ambassador that President Barack Obama dispatched to Cairo earlier this week to advise President Hosni Mubarak, is employed by Patton Boggs, a law firm and registered lobbyist. On its website Patton Boggs summarises the contracts that it has won in the last 20 years to advise the Egyptian military, leading ‘commercial families in Egypt,’ as well as ‘manage contractor disputes in military sales agreements arising under the U.S. Foreign Military Sales Act.’”
Chatterjee also wrote “Lobbyists Help Egyptian Officials Get Aid, Support From U.S.,” which fleshes out information about Wisner and Omar Suleiman, who was recently installed as vice president by Hosni Mubarak.
Said Chatterjee: “Wisner is just one example of the revolving door between U.S. diplomacy and the Egyptian elites in which words whispered by Mubarak and his cronies like Omar Suleiman have become National Security Council policy.” Chatterjee is author of Halliburton’s Army: How a Well-Connected Texas Oil Company Revolutionized the Way America Makes War. He is also a fellow at the Center for American Progress.
He said today: “About $1.3 billion a year goes [from the U.S. government to the Egyptian] military. Most of that goes towards essentially subsidizing the security apparatus of the Mubarak regime. So all the thugs that you see beating ordinary protesters … they are being essentially subsidized by the United States exchequer. …
“There is a complex nexus between the United States government, the various lobbying agencies that surround it and the Egyptian government (the businesses that emanate from the presidential palace, and the security services). There is only one degree that separates Frank Wisner Jr. from Hosni Mubarak and Omar Suleiman. Between them and the people of Egypt lies a vast gulf.
“Both the U.S. State Department and the CIA have long used the term ‘stability’ as their preferred goal for the world order. To those who live under oppressive regimes, instability is the general course of their lives: the vagaries of poverty and police behavior coupled with corruption and incompetence. Protests such as we see in Egypt now are not instability, as far as the people are concerned, but toward the construction of a real stability. The U.S. State Department’s meaning of stability is far removed from the understanding on the streets of Cairo and elsewhere. Stability for Washington is the lack of inconvenience for the allies that it has cultivated over the years, whose willingness to remain as the spokes of an international system whose hub is the U.S. is essential.” Author of The Darker Nations: A People’s History of the Third World, Prashad is director of international studies at Trinity College, in Hartford, Connecticut.