TAYLOR: No easy answers from Egypt

Amid the chaos in Egypt and the Middle East, news reports are becoming increasingly difficult to decipher. Photo: Obama's stance on Egypt Photo: alhurra.com

CHARLOTTEAugust 20, 2013 – To say information about the Middle East in general, and Egypt in particular, is overwhelmingly unclear and uncertain is like trying to predict a winner in a ten man professional wrestling tag-team match. Even the people who understand it don’t seem to understand it.

An old sports adage used to say, “You can’t tell the players without a scorecard.” Nothing could be more true in the Middle East at the moment. As conflict, violence, controversy, hypocrisy, contradiction and misinformation progress, the waters only become muddier.


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Even some of Barack Obama’s most passionate critics are saying his policies in Egypt are, at least for the moment, the proper U.S. strategy. Others, who normally agree with the president, are saying the opposite. The picture is so blurred that both factions of the Egyptian crisis are blaming the Obama administration for favoring the opposition.

For example, there are some, though not many, media outlets reporting that a former Egyptian judge is making unsubstantiated claims the Barack Obama’s Kenyan half-brother, Malik Obama, is a major source of funneling money to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Tahani Al-Gebali has also spread conspiracy theories about covert American support for the Brotherhood.

Meanwhile, The New York Times is standing by a story which stated that Al-Gebali disclosed in an interview with the paper that she pressured the Egyptian military to stop the Muslim Brotherhood from gaining control of the country.


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The judge has responded by saying the interview with The New York Times never took place.

Given the journalistic reputation of the Times as opposed to the credibility of some obscure blogging outlets on the internet, the benefit of the doubt would have to lean toward the more legitimate source.

On the other hand, it was the notorious tabloid The National Enquirer that broke the investigative story in October 2007 about former U.S. Senator John Edwards’ affair with Rielle Hunter which turned out to be the truth.

The point being that many reports are disguised as journalism and must be treated with a grain of salt, but they do instill elements of skepticism that, given the proper catalysts, can be blown all out of proportion.


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One recent example is the widely publicized Oprah Winfrey racism story in Switzerland that became a worldwide sensation with little credible news value other than to promote her new film The Butler.

We can only wait and wonder what may occur between now and Sunday, August 25 in Egypt when the Muslim Brotherhood’s supreme leader, Mohammed Badie, is scheduled for trial along with other MB members for their alleged involvement in the deaths of Egyptian protesters.

The world is well aware by now that if cartoons and videos can incite Islamists to violent protests then a trial is an obvious natural trigger for additional chaos.

The Muslim Brotherhood continues to assert its constitutional legitimacy through the election of President Mohamed Morsi. Is it any wonder that confusion reigns supreme in a region where democracy is already an alien concept, but after it is attempted, the government is overthrown within a year? The reasons for the non-coup coup may be obvious in the West, but they only add to the mistrust and paranoia that exists in a place where mistrust and paranoia are integral to its cultural legacy.

In this instance the United States, and other Western nations, are caught in the middle. All they can really do is issue statements filled with diplomatic buzzwords that pronounce their traditional values to the world.

Even if there are behind the scenes negotiations in progress, dialogue is another misnomer in the Middle East where violence does most of the talking.

For the moment, the problem in Egypt must find a resolution on its own terms regardless of how long it takes.

Meanwhile, blood will continue to flow, confusion will increase and misinformation will grow thanks to propaganda and journalistic interpretation.


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Bob Taylor

Bob Taylor has been travel writer for more than three decades. Following a career as an award winning sports producer/anchor, Taylor’s media production business produced marketing presentations for Switzerland Tourism, Rail Europe, the Finnish Tourist Board, Japan Railways Group, the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council and the Swiss Travel System among others. He is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com) and his goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime.

 

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