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Washington on Egypt: Intimidation, threats and sanctions
Egyptians thought the US government supported democracy and the will of the Egyptian people. Washington's behaviour towards the present regime prove otherwise
Hussein Haridy , Wednesday 30 Oct 2013
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If 30 years from now historians study Egyptian-US relations in the wake of the 30 June revolution in Egypt, they will be hard pressed not to use the three words in the title of this article to describe the course the Barack Obama administration has taken in this period. Many observers have accused the Obama administration of confusion in dealing with the situation in Cairo after the overthrow of the former regime. 

On the contrary, I believe that the decisions taken by the US administration do not stem from a confused reading of political developments in Egypt, but from a well-studied plan to circumvent the revolutionary aspirations of the majority of Egyptians who demonstrated en masse against the despotic rule of the anti-democratic Muslim Brotherhood. A regime that reduced democracy to the well-known formula of all Islamist organisations: one man, one vote, one time.

Throughout the year they ruled the country, there was no mistaking that the policies of the Islamist regime were meant to ensure that the political opposition would never stand a chance of reaching power through the ballot box.

Two major events seemed to escape the attention of the US administration then. The first was the disastrous Constitutional Declaration of 22 November 2012; the second, no less dangerous, was the siege of the High Constitutional Court for weeks last December.

From the last quarter of 2012 till June this year, things turned from bad to worse as far as the democratic exercise of power is concerned. An undemocratic constitution was adopted in a hurry and in the absence of representatives of the opposition as well as the Coptic Church. In this respect, the intimidation of Egyptian Copts went unabated, particularly in Upper Egypt, something successive US administrations used to condemn and use as leverage against the Egyptian government during the Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak eras. I was witness to this myself when I served at the Egyptian embassy from 1979 to 1983.

The silence of the Obama White House in the face of the record of the Brotherhood regime in this respect is strange. Egyptian Copts have found this silence not only disappointing but also disturbing.

Many Egyptians, who wrongly welcomed the public pressure of the White House on Mubarak to relinquish power in February 2011, could not fathom the reasons why the Obama administration turned a blind eye to the growing authoritarianism of the Morsi regime. Those Egyptians thought that the US government was seriously supporting the establishment of a democratic order in Egypt. Their hopes were dashed after the public positions taken by the US administration after 3 July. Surely, they did not welcome these words by President Obama in his remarks to the General Assembly of the United Nations: “And our approach to Egypt reflects a larger point: the United States will at times work with governments that do not meet, at least in our view, the highest international expectations, but who work with us on our core interests.”

From 3 July until today, Washington has not stopped admonishing Egypt and the Egyptians on the way the United States wants them to behave in order to receive its benediction as true democrats from the American perspective. Notwithstanding, sanctions have been imposed without qualifying them as such in public. They range from withholding the delivery of F-16 fighter planes, to tanks, to Apache helicopters, to reducing military aid. What is intriguing in the American decisions is that they withhold the delivery of the Apaches, a mainstay of our fight against terrorism in Sinai, and, in the meantime, the US administration says that it will continue cooperating with the Egyptian government in counterinsurgency operations and securing the international borders in Sinai.

Moreover, the administration announced on Thursday, 10 October, that it would review periodically its assistance programme to Egypt, which means implicitly that more sanctions could be imposed in the future. The New York Times, in an editorial published 11 October, said that the sanctions are a warning to Egypt's generals and added that if the Obama administration's reduction in military aid does not work, more cuts may be necessary.

The approach of the White House rests on the assumption that Egypt is witnessing a confrontation between Brotherhood “democrats” and what the American media likes to describe as the “Generals”. Nowhere are the Egyptian people present in the calculations of the US government.

Furthermore, the US administration has, so far, refrained from qualifying the events of 30 June as a revolution. Nor described what happened on 3 July as a coup, lest it will stop US assistance by force of law.

The central question lies in the true intentions of the US administration. I think the ideal situation for the Obama administration will be for the army to withdraw from political life and pave the way for the return of the Muslim Brotherhood through the election of a democratically-elected government. Or, to put it differently, the future of democracy in Egypt, from the American perspective, should not be made at the expense of the Brotherhood.

Personally speaking, I have always believed that the White House under Obama worked for the coming to power of the Muslim Brothers in 2012 in the context of an understanding that the latter would protect American interests in the Middle East and across the Muslim world. 

The dilemma that will confront the White House in the near future will be the election of a new Egyptian president who would possibly be inspired by the ideals of the Nasser era. And maybe this is the reason why the Americans insist on an all-inclusive democratic process.





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10



George Washington XIII
05-11-2013 02:46pm
7-
3+
Goodbye, Egypt
The military regime never left power for a minute, but was working against the Muslim Brotherhood from the beginning. The dissolution of the 2011 parliament was really what killed any chance of democracy. It was fair to argue for a more inclusive constituent assembly to write the constitution, but annulling the elections was fatal. Anonymous Egyptian generals were quoted in newspapers for years during the Mubarak era promising that the Muslim Brotherhood would never be permitted to take power. They meant it. The Egyptian military, the Supreme Court, and Al-Ahram are all heads of the same regime that never left power. Morsi was fighting against the counterrevolution during his entire year in office. The counterrevolution gained steam as Egypt faced continued economic, political, and social chaos through 2012 and early 2013. On July 3, 2013 the generals saw an opportunity to make the decisive move and removed by force the democratically-elected leader of Egypt, Mohamed Morsi. Raba'a square, August 14, was a brutal massacre that will be described as such in history books. The criminal charges against Morsi are a joke. It's a show trial and Morsi is a political prisoner. Egypt is incapable of democracy because too many non-Islamist Egyptians just don't want democracy. These false "liberals" want to maintain the system of repression against their Islamist opponents, while they maintain their elite positions in an increasingly impoverished country. The United States should say goodbye to Egypt. We do not share mutual values at this time and there is little hope for Egyptian democracy in the foreseeable future either. The United States must protect its own democratic values by distancing itself from the situation in Egypt. If Egyptians want to repress and kill each other, go ahead, but we're out of here. 7az sa3eed
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Dalou
10-11-2013 12:10am
0-
2+
a short comment
Good Ridance!!
Ahmed Ibrahim
06-11-2013 09:34am
5-
2+
The Egyptian secularists don't want democracy period
I think every word he mentioned is correct.
9



Jack, Tulsa, Oklahoma
03-11-2013 10:02am
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7+
Don't speak for me-I love Sharia
Deborah: speak for yourself, not for me. Democracy allows people to choose their political system. Egyptians are not being allowed to choose their political system by a Nazi-like junta, seeking to ruin the country and steal its wealth under false nationalistc slogans.
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8



Deborah
03-11-2013 07:53am
7-
4+
sad day in America
Next Sharia? Most Americans have no clue what we're in for. Islamization of the USA! Wait and see.
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7



Deborah
03-11-2013 07:47am
4-
8+
Betrayed by my president, Obama
I feel betrayed by my president. I live in California. The media center of the States. The liberal press did not tell the truth. The Muslim Brotherhood in America lobbying in Washington are having a field day! To gain non-biased information on Egypt's revolution, I went to outside sources: Egyptian News.Many Americans feel angry and frustrated with our President. I am afraid for Liberty! my prayers are with you! -lone American
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Dalou
10-11-2013 02:30am
0-
1+
Cry me a river
You feel betrayed by your President what did he do wrong? Comming complain to Egyptians. Warning them about your President is strange enough. You call him Hussein Obama in US- poor "lone American" Many Americans are hungry and on food stamps, Americans are fed up with Wars, Israel asking Obama to attack Syria, to nuke Iran, to attack Lebanon Hezbollah who never invaded Israel.
6



Jon
02-11-2013 09:42am
4-
7+
Egyptians are bad at compromise
Morsi intervened against the Mubarak judges because they refused to persecute the people responsible for the murders during the 2011 revolution. The liberals and old regime people walked out of the constitutional committee because they were not in majority and could not dictate the outcome (as they can now, without the Brotherhood). Naive supporters of the quasi military dictatorship, like Hussein Haridy seem to belive that you can just outlaw the biggest political group in the country, arrest its leaders, close its media outlets and confiscate its funds, and it will then disappear. Instead, you risk 20 years of civil war, as they have had in Algeria. Furthermore, this preoccupation with the USA is ridiculous. There are 80 million inhabitants in Egypt. How many are American, or American agents? How can the USA decide anything here? Would it not be better to for once believe Obama when he says that he want a rule by the people in Egypt? Would it not be better to admit that the problems of Egypt are entirely home made, born out of personal vanity, stubbornness and immaturity of its so-called political leaders?
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5



Democracia
01-11-2013 11:00pm
0-
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From inside Egypt
Why do you or do Egyptians always look to America??? And why you always ask, America (or in this case Obama) is with or against whom??? This should not interest anyone here in Egypt. Make yourself free from this kind of thinking! Do your own job! The solution of the problems and the way to democracy will not come from there or from any other country in the world but just from inside Egypt.But be aware: The responsibility for whatever may happen here is also to be find inside Egypt...
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Deborah
03-11-2013 07:58am
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0+
...doing your own job
America is the leader of the free world. That is why thrill to USA.
4



Sam Enslow
01-11-2013 09:45am
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Dose of reality
The 25 January Revolution said, "No" to theocratic rule and to military rule. Which groups have be in charge of Egypt since then? When Morsy came to power, he claimed he would be President of ALL Egyptians. That sounded good and the people of Egypt (who elected him) said to give The Brothers a chance. You saw how that worked out. The army with the support of millions of Egyptians removed Morsy and established a road map to a new democracy in Egypt. Words are words. Deeds are deeds. To express concern over the political process doesn't mean support for The Brothers. After the "Conference on Syria", I find it hard to believe any Egyptian seriously believes the US supports The Brothers. At the same time it is important that members of The Brotherhood (not the organization itself) believe they are a part of Egypt. The US learned the hard way that force alone will not change hearts and minds. When The Brothers came to power the Egyptian media was full of speculation that the US supported democracy as long as the "right" people were elected. "Look at how the US branded Hamas a terrorist organization!" Once Morsy lost popularity, stories began appearing about how the US was in cahoots with The Brothers. Morsy received no special treatment from the US. There was even a photo published of "an American" in a tent buying Sinai from high ranking Brothers. All figures were identified except "the American". No one in the Egyptian media mention that the story was false. That if it were possible to buy parts of Egypt from The Brothers, the deal would not be done in a tent in the desert or that Obama would be impeached if there was any truth to the story. The stories go on and on without any verification. When the US suggested that it would be wise to have a constitution prior to holding elections that was because the US only supported Egypt's military and SCAF. Today The Brothers claim the US was the driving force behind Morsy's removal. The US was blamed for dealing with Mubarak and not listening to the Egyptian people. Well, Obama is listening to the Egyptian people who said, "No to military rule and no to theocratic rule." All politicians in all countries are very good at making promises. They sometimes fail to deliver. The work on Egypt's amended constitution appears to be going well. But a constitution will be meaningless unless all Egyptians and Egyptian institutions value it and act in accordance to it. If not, it becomes like Morsy's election, meaningless as a tool for democracy. In the US, officials take an oath, not to the country or to a party or to a religious group. They take an oath to protect and defend The Constitution.
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George Saber
01-11-2013 10:20pm
10-
6+
Don't listen to media lies about the Islamists
Sam: you are wrong. The army rose up against Mursi because Mursi wanted to turn Egypt into a true democracy. The army controls 40% of the Egyptiasn economy and doesn't want to lose this. Besideas the number of people who really took to the streets on 30 June was greatly overstatede. In fact the people who demonstrated for Mursi were far more than the people who demonstrated against him,. But the secular anti-Islam media wouldn't tell the truth.
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J.M.Jordan
31-10-2013 07:56pm
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It's easy to understand. This is Obama governed America.
And Obama stands for "change". And even in America by many is considered as a "closet Islamist".
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2



Hanna Morgus
30-10-2013 08:23pm
11-
4+
US is using the same tactics against the junta
Washington on Egypt: Intimidation, threats and sanctions? Because this is the only language the junta understands. They employed mass murder,coercion, intimidation and terror against their own people...So Washington is using the same tactics against the fascist junta.
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1



Ayan
30-10-2013 08:05pm
19-
10+
The US should cut off ALL Aid
You sound like a Sisi spokesperson. The US should cut off all aid to Egypt and put Sisi on the international criminal list. The problem with Egyptians like yourselves are that you don't understand rule of law and principles. How can you.. after being under the corrupt military boot for your entire history. Even if you hate the president, you have to remove him in a peaceful, democratic and rules based way. The military killing and locking up the legit gov of Egypt is treason, a crime punishable by death in any civilized, rules based society. I think the generals will pay a heavy price for this coup. And that day can't come soon enough.
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