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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus 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.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid