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

Video Iran Nuclear Deal Becomes US Campaign Issue

Voters in three crucial battleground states - Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania - overwhelmingly oppose nuclear deal with Iran More

With IS in Coalition Cross-Hairs, al-Qaida's Syria Affiliate Reemerges

Jabhat al-Nusra has rebounded, increasingly casting itself as a critical player in battle for Syria’s future More

Lessons Learned From Katrina, 10 Years Later

FEMA chief Craig Fugate says key changes include better preparation, improved coordination among state, federal assistance agencies 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs