News / Middle East

Obama Faces Tough Choices on Egypt

Obama Faces Tough Choices on Egypti
July 06, 2013 1:53 AM
President Barack Obama is facing difficult choices in shaping U.S. policy toward Egypt after the Egyptian military ousted President Mohamed Morsi on Wednesday. The White House is assessing how best to encourage both democracy and stability in Egypt.
Obama Faces Tough Choices on Egypt
Kent Klein
President Barack Obama is facing difficult choices in shaping U.S. policy toward Egypt after the Egyptian military ousted President Mohamed Morsi on Wednesday. The White House is assessing how best to encourage both democracy and stability in Egypt.
Two days after his ouster, supporters of Egypt's ex-president clash with demonstrators who want him out - reflecting that nation's division and the quandary left for U.S. policymakers.

A military officer announced the removal of Morsi after barely a year in power. Large crowds of Egyptians had pushed for his removal.

President Barack Obama has spoken in public only once since the overthrow, and he did not mention what many are calling a military "coup" in Cairo. Over two days, the president has discussed the situation with his national security advisers.

Obama issued a written statement Wednesday, expressing “deep concern” about the military’s move. He urged the military to quickly and responsibly “return full authority… to a democratically-elected civilian government as soon as possible.”

Obama’s statement was seen by some people as criticizing Morsi's ouster.  

Administration officials, in meetings and phone calls, however, seemed to signal to Egypt and other U.S. allies that the White House accepts the military’s act.

And some Washington analysts have advised the administration to align itself with the Egyptian military. They call it “the only safe harbor in the relationship,” and “the one actor the United States can still influence.”

Others, such as Jon Alterman, director of Middle East Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, say the U.S. should engage with Egypt’s whole political spectrum.

“I think we should have a relationship with the military, but we should also have deeper relationships with the business community, and deeper relationships with the academic community, and deeper relationships in the provinces and so on, because Egyptian politics are going to be shifting for many years to come,” said Alterman.

In his statement, Obama avoided using the word “coup” when referring to the events in Cairo.

At stake is more than $1.5 billion a year in U.S. aid to Egypt, most of it to the military. U.S. law requires cutting off aid to any country in which an elected government is deposed in a military coup.

Alterman said the law does not take into account a situation like the one in Egypt, and he believes U.S. lawmakers will work around it.

“The response to the law, the common sense approach to U.S. interests, to the U.S. relationship with Egypt, to the U.S. relationship with the Egyptian military, is going to be [that] people will find some way not to make a judgment on that, so that it does not disrupt the bilateral relationship,” he said.

Later, the Republican chairman and top Democrat on the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee issued a joint statement implying that it was time for Morsi to go. Ed Royce and Eliot Engel also encouraged the military to exercise extreme caution and support sound democratic institutions.

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Comment Sorting
by: Jonathan Huang from: canada
July 06, 2013 1:12 PM
I am glad US finally learnt that there is nothing in the world is absolutely right or wrong like the colour white or black.
democracy and dictatorship are the same, they could be both wrong under some circumstance.
US should learn to stop judging other countries inner-fares.

by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
July 06, 2013 11:03 AM
A tough sit for the WH? not really, this type of conflict is not unusual; it can potentially lead to a civil war. What to do? not take sides; offer services to mediate the conflicting political views; this is not a conflict between the Egyptian army and the conservatives, or the Egyptian army and the liberals. Recognize it is a conflict between conservative and liberal political forces in Egypt; and recognize that the root cause is the absolute failure of the conservative forces, lead by Morsi, to achieve any economic progress. Morsi has shown to be incapable of improving any aspects of Egypt's economy; in addition, he failed to compromise on the path to achieve a balance between minority, secular, and conservative Islamist policies in the ramrodded constitution. His biggest failure was to stop the harassment of women, on the streets, his policies appeared to encourage extremists, that are against the emancipation of women; Morsi did absolutely nothing to ensure equality, on the contrary all his policies appeared to be geared to pit the Islamists against all others. Dialogue, compromise, and a fair constitution will be necessary to make Egypt inclusive. Unless Egypt's economy, especially the plight of the unemployed young people, is addressed the potential for a deadly civil war will continue to exists, no matter if the left, right or center takes over the gvmt of Egypt. Most of it applies to many other countries, and not just in the ME. Globalization, which concentrates production/jobs in a few countries, is one of the major causes of all these economic collapses/wars/civil unrest that we see around the world; It is incumbent on the global producers to distribute production, so that employment opportunities improve around the world. The other major cause is still tribalism, and lastly the failure to emancipate women.

by: Dr. Malek Towghi from: USA
July 06, 2013 1:38 AM
Let us not forget that class dynamics are also a part of the equation in the present upheaval in Egypt. From the very beginning Muhammad and the Quran portrayed themselves as upholders of the rights of the "mus-taz-'afin", the economically and socially weakest of the weak, the downtrodden, against the then existing Establishment of the economically dominant "arrogants" (mus-tak-birin) and "tyrannical" (jabbarin) elements of the society. It is this class of the "pious" (salihun) downtrodden and deprived, the sans culotte, that the Quran promised -- and continues to promise -- to "inherit the land", i.e. capture power. It should not be surprising that the majority of the leadership of -- and the bulk of support for -- the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamic configurations, gama-at, come from the lower and lower-middle classes -- from the urban slums, semi slums and deprived rural regions -- which together form the overwhelming majority of the population.

It should also be noted that there is no real and meaningful understanding and appreciation for secularism -- constitutional separation of religion from common educational, civic, state and international affairs -- among the so-called moderate and 'liberal' Muslim leaders. It is the identification with the upper class Establishment and its luxurious life-style -- and with a vulgar superficial 'modernity' -- rather than a commitment to Western Enlightenment-based cum Jeffersonian ideals that distinguishes them from the Islamists. The fact is that none of the Egyptian opposition leaders and parties including Mr. Muhammad ElBaradei and his National Salvation Front had/has the courage to openly demand and promise a religion-neutral constitution for Egypt. If this second coup -- the first being that of 1954 -- succeeds, most probably the Islamic clauses of the Egyptian constitution will remain intact, more or less, providing a base for the further Islamization of the laws and constitution -- something that happened in Pakistan.

by: ali baba from: new york
July 06, 2013 12:45 AM
the crisis in Egypt is expected. the American approach is stupid. they supported Muslim brotherhood which they created a chaos in the country.

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