In the wake of the recent events in Egypt that resulted in the July 3rd ousting of President Mohammad Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood (MB)-led government, EMET would like to clarify our position on Egypt’s new government, and on U.S. aid provided to Egypt:
Much discussion has been centered on whether the events in Egypt represent a military coup. Certainly elements of the events resemble a coup. It is accurate that the army ousted President Mohamed Morsi and the Brotherhood, armored vehicles were deployed in public places, television and radio stations were seized and the military formally pronounced that Morsi was no longer the President of Egypt. In the subsequent fighting, both pro- and anti-Morsi protesters have reportedly been killed. However it is quite clear that the Egyptian military responded to the voice of millions of Egyptians on the street, who strongly objected to President Morsi and the MB. Based on respective crowd sizes, it seems evident that the army responded to the will of the people in the streets. It is our belief that General Abdul Fattah al-Sissi acted in a responsible fashion in an attempt to restore stability to the highly polarized Egyptian populace.
For the purpose of American law regarding foreign military aid, EMET believes that the dispute over whether events on July 3rd were indeed a “military coup” is a distraction from the essential question of whether we should continue aiding an Islamist government when it has declared war on the West, as well as over the question over whether the Morsi/MB regime was “duly elected.”
EMET agrees with several of its Advisory Board members notably scholars Dr. Daniel Pipes, President of the Middle East Forum, and Caroline Glick, Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs at the Center for Security Policy, who have questioned the legitimacy of the elections that brought Morsi and the Brotherhood to power.
In addition, since his initial election, President Morsi has himself conducted what some call “another coup,” as “placing himself, by decree, above the law to make sure that his Islamist constitution would be approved.” During this time, the Muslim Brotherhood permitted, and, in some cases, orchestrated, violence towards women, Copts, and their political opponents; pressured the U.S. to release a convicted terrorist, the Blind Sheik , Omar Abdel Rahman, who had been responsible for the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993, and who attempted to blow up several New York landmarks; instituted blasphemy prosecutions against minorities, has imprisoned dissident members of the press, has kicked out and prosecuted American and European, democracy building ngo’s ,and has threatened wars against Israel, Ethiopia and Syria.
It is important to remember that elections, in and of themselves, – even if they were conducted in a fair manner– do not establish democracy. Hitler gained control of Germany, Hamas gained control of Gaza, and Chavez came to power in Venezuela through reasonably “free” elections. Democracy also requires that the population enjoy: 1) the freedom of religion, 2) the freedom of speech, press, assembly, and the right to petition the government; 3) a free and independent judiciary; and 4) guaranteed civil rights. None of these freedoms were present under the Morsi/MB regime, nor was any attempt made to begin instituting them.
Moving forward, EMET believes that the Obama Administration should continue to provide foreign aid to the new Egyptian government, as long as that government shows that it is working constructively to create a real democratic ally in Egypt. Strong conditions must be put on our aid, and the Administration must act to enforce these conditions in the future. Further, EMET supports slowly shifting American s foreign aid to Egypt from military to economic aid, and from military aid that could support aggressive actions against other nations to military aid that provides counterterrorism assistance. For example, by providing the Egyptian military with assistance focused on intelligence equipment and training, rather than on Abrams tanks and F-16 fighter jets.
In conclusion, the debate over whether events in Egypt on July 3rd constitute a “coup” is a distraction from the real struggle to oppose radical Islam, which has declared war on the West, and provides undeserved legitimacy to the Muslim Brotherhood. Future debate should be centered on how best to establish a stable, democratic Egypt free from totalitarian parties like the Muslim Brotherhood.