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

Missouri Town Braces for Possible Racial Unrest

Situation in Ferguson hinges on whether white police officer will be indicted for August shooting death of unarmed black teen; decision could come Monday More

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of 1930s Deadly Famine

President Poroshenko compares Soviet-era ‘genocide’ to current tactics of pro-Russia rebels in Ukraine's east More

S. Philippines Convictions Elusive 5 Years After Election-related Killings

Officials vowed to deliver justice as the nation marked the anniversary of the country's worst political massacre that left 58 dead, more than half media More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Faminei
X
Daniel Schearf
November 23, 2014 4:32 PM
During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video Law Enforcement, Activists in Ferguson Agree to Keep Peace

Authorities in Ferguson, Missouri, say they have agreed with protest leaders to maintain peace when a grand jury reaches its decision on whether to indict a white police officer in the shooting death of a black teenager. Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis, has been the scene of intermittent violence since the August 9 shooting intensified long-simmering antagonism between the police and the African-American community. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid