New puppets: Egypt's once hated military and street protestors

When I visited Tahir Square last year, days after Mohammed Morsi had become Egypt's first democratically elected president, graffiti everywhere denounced the military which had taken power after the overthrow of dictator Hosni Mubarak.

Now the very same fiery, young radicals have welcomed army generals staging a coup to get rid of Morsi. They claim the Muslim Brotherhood leader was autocratic, only cared about promoting the interests of his Islamist party and had done nothing to tackle the country's dire economic problems. But, after the massacre of more that 50 Brotherhood supporters by the military last week opinion about the new rulers has changed among key leaders of the Morsi opposition. Some Islamists have pulled out of talks about a road map to bringing back democracy called by the caretaker president installed by the military.

And, far from being neutral, the US - major funders of the Egyptian military - have been exposed as biased. Some people would go as far as saying that Barack Obama's administration was behind the coup desperate as it is to have a pro-Israel Cairo government. 

Emad Mekay, revealed the following on the Al Jazeera website: 

President Barack Obama recently stated the United States was not taking sides as Egypt's crisis came to a head with the military overthrow of the democratically elected president.

But a review of dozens of US federal government documents shows Washington has quietly funded senior Egyptian opposition figures who called for toppling of the country's now-deposed president Mohamed Morsi.

Documents obtained by the Investigative Reporting Program at University of California Berkeley show the US channeled funding through a State Department programme "to promote democracy" in the Middle East region. This programme vigorously supported activists and politicians who have fermented unrest in Egypt, after autocratic president Hosni Mubarak was ousted in a popular uprising in February 2011.

The State Department's programme, dubbed by US officials as a "democracy assistance" initiative, is part of a wider Obama administration effort to try to stop the retreat of pro-Washington secularists, and to win back influence in Arab Spring countries that saw the rise of Islamists, who largely oppose US interests in the Middle East.

Activists bankrolled by the programme include an exiled Egyptian police officer who plotted the violent overthrow of the Morsi government, an anti-Islamist politician who advocated closing mosques and dragging preachers out by force, as well as a coterie of opposition politicians who pushed for the overthrowing of the country's first democratically elected leader, government documents show.

Information obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, interviews, and public records reveal Washington's "democracy assistance" may have violated Egyptian law, which prohibits foreign political funding.

It may also have broken US government rules that ban the use of taxpayers' money to fund foreign politicians, or finance subversive activities that target democratically elected governments.

Washington's democracy assistance programme for the Middle East is filtered through a pyramid of agencies within the State Department. Hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars is channeled through the Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL), The Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), USAID, as well as the Washington-based, quasi-governmental organisation the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

In turn, those groups re-route money to other organisations such as the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute (NDI), and Freedom House, among others. Federal documents show these groups have sent funds to certain organisations in Egypt, mostly run by senior members of anti-Morsi political parties who double as NGO activists.

The Middle East Partnership Initiative - launched by the George W Bush administration in 2002 in a bid to influence politics in the Middle East in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks - has spent close to $900m on democracy projects across the region, a federal grants database shows.

Photography: Marc Wadsworth