News / Middle East

US Seen as Having Few Policy Options on Egypt

Opponents of ousted President Mohamed Morsi pass by burning vehicles during clashes with Morsi supporters, in Cairo, Egypt, Monday, July 22.
Opponents of ousted President Mohamed Morsi pass by burning vehicles during clashes with Morsi supporters, in Cairo, Egypt, Monday, July 22.
Mohamed Elshinnawi
U.S. officials and Middle East experts are closely monitoring the situation in Egypt, where they are concerned about possible violence during rival pro- and anti-government demonstrations expected Friday.

The concerns heightened this week when Egypt's military leader, General Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, called for mass street demonstrations to showcase strong popular support of the military's planned campaign to stamp out what it said was violence and terrorism.

"Please, shoulder your responsibility with me, your army and the police, and show your numbers and steadfastness in the face of what is going on," el-Sissi said.

Sissi's call came on a day in which 12 people died in clashes between Muslim Brotherhood supporters of deposed president Mohamed Morsi and those backing his ouster by the military.

Jen Psaki, the State Department spokesperson, summed up U.S. concerns over the situation in Egypt.

“We reiterate our call, which we have done publicly a number of times, but also in private conversations with him [Sissi] and others, on all participants, that all demonstrations be peaceful,” Psaki said. “We are concerned that clashes would make it very difficult to reconcile and get ahead of cycles of unrest and instability.”

As a signal of its concern, the Obama administration announced it was delaying the planned delivery of four F-16 fighter jets earmarked for Egypt. The broader question of continuing Washington's $1.3 billion in annual military assistance was not addressed.

US public opinion favors low-profile Washington role

American public opinion, meanwhile, clearly favored an arms-length stance with Cairo.

 

Egypt's interim President Adli Mansour (R) meets with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns at El-Thadiya presidential palace in Cairo, July 15, 2013.Egypt's interim President Adli Mansour (R) meets with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns at El-Thadiya presidential palace in Cairo, July 15, 2013.
x
Egypt's interim President Adli Mansour (R) meets with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns at El-Thadiya presidential palace in Cairo, July 15, 2013.
Egypt's interim President Adli Mansour (R) meets with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns at El-Thadiya presidential palace in Cairo, July 15, 2013.
A new public opinion poll conducted by Zogby Research Services (ZRS) gauged the opinions of 1,014 likely U.S. voters between July 12 and July 13. It concluded that Americans’ negative attitudes toward the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt climbed to 61 percent, and that 63 percent of Americans want Washington to stay out of the dispute between the Islamist movement and protestors backed by the military.

“Right now, with such a highly uncertain political environment in Egypt, the less we do or say, the better off we are,” said pollster James Zogby.

But Washington, said Zogby, needs to articulate an overall position on the Egyptian situation because the lack of such a vision has led each side in Egypt to conclude that Washington is backing the other.

A sign of this distrust came earlier this month when U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns visited Cairo, and both anti-Islamist and pro-Muslim Brotherhood leaders refused to meet with him. Burns was able to meet only with the country's military leaders and the civilians they appointed.

Possibly because of such distrust and the fast moving developments in Cairo, most Middle East experts in the United States generally agree that Washington should be cautious in dealing with Egypt for the time being.

Despite the tense situation, Dennis Ross, former National Security Council senior director for the region and long-time Middle East negotiator, told a U.S. Senate hearing this week that Washington had to maintain its leverage over events in Egypt.

“It makes sense for us to stay in the game and try to affect Egypt’s course, and not make a statement that will render us largely irrelevant as Egyptians shape an uncertain future,” Ross said, adding that Washington should make Egyptian leaders understand that continued U.S. economic and military assistance was at stake.

But Shadi Hamid, research director of the Brookings Institution's Doha Center, told a seminar in Washington this week that U.S. aid to Egypt was no longer as influential in Cairo as it used to be because Arab Gulf nations had already pledged $12 billion to the country's new government.

Steven Clemons, a senior fellow at the Washington-based New America Foundation, said Washington could get back some of its former influence by restructuring its aid package.

“Triple the economic portion of U.S. aid and cut the military aid for a period of time,” Clemons told the same Washington seminar this week. He said that restructuring would signal to the leaders in Cairo that Washington was supporting the welfare of the Egyptian people, not necessarily the latest leadership group.

You May Like

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid