News / Africa

Q&A: Former US National Security Adviser on Egypt

Supporter of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi is beaten by pro-government and army supporters during clashes that erupted at Tahrir Square and near the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, July 22, 2013.
Supporter of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi is beaten by pro-government and army supporters during clashes that erupted at Tahrir Square and near the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, July 22, 2013.
Egypt’s military-backed government is going ahead with plans for a political transition following the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi.
 
In a VOA interview, former U.S. National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft said the United States must help develop a strategy to restore Egypt’s economic and political stability.

Former U.S. National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft at prior VOA interview, undated file image (VOA).Former U.S. National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft at prior VOA interview, undated file image (VOA).
x
Former U.S. National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft at prior VOA interview, undated file image (VOA).
Former U.S. National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft at prior VOA interview, undated file image (VOA).
"What is needed now is to put together a structure which can complete the building of an Egyptian political system — that is with a constitution, with elections, with governments that broadly reflect the interests of the electorate,” he said. “We are at the very early part of that, and managing it in a way which is beneficial and not harmful is a serious challenge."
 
Was it a coup?
 
On July 3, the Egyptian military deposed the democratically elected President Morsi, a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood. He was ousted after a year in power and after millions of Egyptians took to the streets for four days protesting the way he ran the country.
 
Scowcroft, a retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant general, addressed the hotly contested issue whether the military action was a coup or not.
 
"This was not a coup in the normal sense of the word. Egypt is going through a very complicated period right now, and one of the rocks, if you will, of Egyptian society is the military," he said. "Egypt is blessed with a military that doesn't want to run the country. They want the country to run right, but they don’t want to run the country. And so I think that changes the whole character of what happened."
 
Some experts said defining whether the military action in Egypt was a coup or not is important because a U.S. law stipulates the cut-off of aid "to any country whose duly elected head of government is deposed by a military coup." But the Obama administration has been hesitant to apply that label to what happened in Egypt.
 
US aid serves specific purpose
 
Each year, the United States provides $1.3 billion in military aid to Egypt.
 
Scowcroft, who served as national security adviser under Presidents Gerald Ford [1975-77] and George H. W. Bush, [1989-93], said that aid serves a specific purpose.
 
"What the $1.3 billion was, was a specific percentage of the amount that we gave, or give annually to Israel. And it was designed to cement the Egyptian-Israeli treaty of 1979. So most of the articles about it just talk about it as aid," he said. "Well, it is aid for a specific thing — that treaty. So that’s the genesis of that aid program, and it has continued since that time. So it’s not just military aid. It is military aid to undergird the treaty."
 
Some U.S. lawmakers are pressing for an end to that aid, but Scowcroft described such action as "shortsighted."
 
Egypt's economy needs help
 
Experts said Egypt is in dire straits economically, facing power and gas shortages, soaring inflation and high unemployment.
 
Scowcroft said urgent action is needed to stabilize the country’s economy.
 
"Egypt’s basic money-earner is tourism. Well, tourism is almost zero now. And that’s a terrible blow. Another one is foreign remittances, and that’s way, way down," he said. "They are having serious problems economically and they need help. And the United States can do that, not increasing help ourselves, but in helping them manage their economy."
 
The former national security adviser said Washington is also helping in other ways.
 
"One of the most encouraging things that has happened is that our secretary of defense now talks almost daily with the head of the Egyptian military," he said. "I think that is profoundly beneficial.”
 
"Without a successful Egypt, the region has a serious problem," Scowcroft said, describing a stable Egypt as extremely important to the Middle East.

Andre de Nesnera

Andre de Nesnera is senior analyst at the Voice of America, where he has reported on international affairs for more than three decades. Now serving in Washington D.C., he was previously senior European correspondent based in London, established VOA’s Geneva bureau in 1984 and in 1989 was the first VOA correspondent permanently accredited in the Soviet Union.

You May Like

US, Brazil's Climate-Change Plan: More Renewables, Less Deforestation

Officials say joint initiative on climate change will allow Brazil, United States to strengthen and accelerate cooperation on issues ranging from land use to clean energy More

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Reporting from Somali capital for past decade, Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal has been working at one of Mogadishu's leading radio stations covering parliament More

After Nearly a Century, Voodoo Opera Rises Again

Opera centers on character named Lolo, a Louisiana plantation worker and Voodoo priestess More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: John Henry from: France
July 24, 2013 8:23 PM
I have not found anywhere from the US an article like this. The former U.S. National Security Adviser Mr. Brent Scowcroft really knows Egypt and the Egyptians and knows really what he is speaking about. I am an Egyptian and am proud of him. He is one of the very few who speak the truth in the US. All my respects to that man and also to the honest writer of this article.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishui
X
Abdulaziz Billow
June 30, 2015 2:16 PM
Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs