How Egypt’s military rulers are exploiting the power of conspiracy theories

The Economist reports: Amid the tempest over Syrian chemical weapons, an irony stands out. After two decades of bloody struggle between the West and al-Qaeda’s global jihadist franchise, those bitter adversaries suddenly find themselves fighting on the same side. As Western countries threaten retaliatory strikes against Bashar Assad’s regime for its apparent use of poison gas, al-Qaeda’s Syrian branch also promises a “volcano of revenge”.

Just another shake of the pieces in an increasingly baffling Middle East puzzle? No, says the pro-government press in Egypt, where conspiracy theorists have grown ever more strident since the coup in July that toppled Muhammad Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood. The apparent surprise-realignment over Syria, they claim, simply tears the veil from a long-standing Zionist-American-Muslim Brotherhood plot, exposing a diabolical plan to divide and weaken Israel’s most powerful Arab neighbours, one by one.

First, of course, say the conspiracy theorists, was Iraq, where the crippling result of America’s 2003 invasion is plain. Now Syria, riven by sects and falling to pieces, awaits air strikes set to deliver the coup de grâce. But the big prize for the wicked West in league with al-Qaeda is, beyond a doubt, Egypt.

Here, the cabal of Israeli, Western and Islamist plotters set out to foment sectarian strife, and to install a Muslim Brotherhood government that would divide the country into two, perhaps four, weakened micro-states. Only the Egyptian army’s timely intervention and the strong hand of the police and intelligence services have saved the ancient nation from a dismal fate. But the plotters have not given up: Egypt remains under threat. [Continue reading…]

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