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.

You May Like

Multimedia Brussels Schools, Metro Reopen Under Heavy Guard

City remains under the highest threat alert level due to what authorities have described as a 'serious and imminent' threat of attack

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

Americans Think About Strange Stuff at Thanksgiving

Millions of Americans are celebrating Thanksgiving, but they’re not necessarily thinking about turkey and stuffing

This forum has been closed.
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.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs