Egyptian government shuts down offices of US election monitors
The military is scapegoating these US based NGO's, telling the Egyptian people that the riots and unrest at Tahrir Square is the result of money being funneled to groups from the United States.
It's just an excuse to shut down election monitors in advance of the last round of parliamentary elections and the presidential election that may take place as early as next summer.
Two of the organizations, the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute, had been formally authorized by the Egyptian government to monitor the parliamentary elections set to resume next week. Critics said the surprise raids contradicted the military's pledge to hold a fair and transparent vote.
The other American-financed pro-democracy group whose offices were closed, the advocacy group Freedom House, had completed its application for official recognition just three days ago. An American group that helps train Egyptian journalists was among the other nonprofit groups raided.
Human rights activists said security forces barging into the offices of respected international organizations was unprecedented, even under the police state of President Hosni Mubarak, who was ousted this year.
The raids are the latest and most forceful effort yet by the country's ruling generals to crack down on perceived sources of criticism amid rising calls from Egyptian politicians and protesters and some Western leaders for the military to hand over power to a civilian government. Those calls were punctuated by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's expression of outrage last week over the military's beating and stripping of female demonstrators in Tahrir Square.
On Thursday, a State Department spokeswoman announced that it was "deeply concerned" by the raids.
It's the old "hidden hand" conspiracy theory that Mubarak regularly trotted out to explain his crackdowns. In this case, one wonders why the protestors and the US government want to speed up the handover to civilian control. Why speed it up when it means the Muslim Brotherhood and their Salifis allies come to power that much quicker?
Regardless, this is bad news for the Egyptian people as the monitors were trying to keep the Brotherhood at least partly honest in their electioneering. This won't affect the outcome of elections as much as it will reduce the international legitimacy of the Brotherhood's mandate.