There are countries that for reasons beyond our knowledge feel predestined to interfere in the affairs of others, as if it were an absolute democratic legitimacy obtained no one knows exactly how or where.
Throughout history, especially in recent years, many African countries have come to feel this sting with which certain international powers want to mark the victims of their influences in a possession game that threatens democracy itself.
The most recent case affected someone in a public position and was recently disclosed by the U.S. Department of State, which demanded that the president of Egypt personally intervene in a decision of the courts, which have just condemned to three years in prison journalists who had been detained under the accusation of supporting an organization the country considers terrorist — the Muslim Brotherhood.
In this case, there’s no point in scrutinizing the reasons that led to the arrest of those three journalists, let alone discussing whether the charges have substantial documentary evidence.
What it is worth stressing here is simply the fact that the United States, once more, has not resisted the temptation of trying to force the president of another sovereign country to interfere in the decision of an independent internal power — like justice — whose deliberations would have to be accepted by everyone, including the higher magistrate in the nation.
What seems to be clear, following this clumsy imposition by the U.S. Department of State, is that its wishes have to forcefully overlap with the laws and wishes of other countries, following its strategy, no matter what. This inadmissible direct interference in a matter that only concerns justice and the Egyptian people is considered by many a withered demonstration of moral and political superiority toward a country with a history of willingness and determination that deserves due respect.
And this respect should be even increased since the country trying to minimize the importance and functionality of its institutions is the same country where the death penalty still exists and where many citizens are shamefully released after more than 20 years in prison for crimes that — it is later proved — they haven’t even committed.
This is the same country that lets go dramatically unpunished police, who, even as they murder African-American citizens in cold blood continue to be free; and the same country that is fearless but less and less serene in face of a law that allows underage youngsters to buy weapons with which they will later kill whoever has the misfortune of crossing their path.
It’s also the country whose top leaders openly support and shake hands with leaders of regimes where human rights is not worth a penny, like Saudi Arabia for example, but then demand “examples of transparency and good governance” from African dignitaries elected and respected by their people.
It’s the same country still that blatantly uses organizations of civil societies as a mask for attacking the internal order of countries they want to bend to the weight of its interests, without worrying about the consequences of its actions.
The humiliating situation Cuba went through for having had the courage to say “no” to U.S. imposition is only comparable to the support given over the years to rebellious groups, which contest governments legitimately elected by their people, therefore cooperating in and encouraging long wars that have limited the possibility of development in such countries, claiming the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.
It is very clear that a country that has this kind of behavior in its relations with other states is only worth of distrust and, due to the repetitive patterns, can’t even benefit from the doubt that is usually given to those who assume positions that can at least be understood as less thought-through or even clumsy.
Going back to the concrete case of Egypt, even if President al-Sisi wanted (or eventually wants) to use his powers to alter the practical effects of the judicial sentence applied to the three journalists, the truth is that everything is more complicated after the position publicly assumed by the U.S. Department of State.
The Egyptian president himself is now in a very exposed situation because if he applies an eventual amnesty, he will always carry the uncomfortable weight of the suspicion of having bowed to yet another humiliating imposition of the “American friend.”
On the other hand, if he lets the journalists carry out their sentences, he can equally be accused of doing nothing, only to be connoted with the imposition emanating from the U.S. Department of State, which also shows grim signs of weakness.
One way or another, the position of the Egyptian president is particularly uncomfortable, and it does not help his efforts to show that he and Egypt are in complete engagement with democracy.
After all, it is right to say that with friends like this, Egypt and its president do not need any enemies.