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

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed 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.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs