While Egypt Burns

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Addendum on July 4, 2013
“What happened in Egypt yesterday was not a military coup. It was the army listening to the voice of millions and millions of Egyptians on the street. Many people seem to confuse one election with a democracy. One election does not a democracy make. We have to remember that Hitler and Hamas control of Gaza, let alone Ahmadinejad and Chavez also came into power though a process of elections.  On this cherished date, in particular, we have got to stop and reflect upon what a democracy truly means. It means freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom of speech, freedom of assemblage, a free and independent judiciary, the right to petition the government, a separation of powers, and the rights of minorities.
The radical Islamist Muslim Brotherhood regime, dominated by Shariah law, had none of those checks and balances or religious freedoms. At this time, while the real enemy that threatens to destroy Western civilization, as we know it, in our day, is radical Islam. This constitutes no less a threat than Nazism or Communism constituted in our parents’ generation.  We must never confuse a radical Islamist government with a democracy, no matter how it came into power.”

”Nero Fiddled While Rome Burned”

Egypt is in flames. This vast nation of nearly 90 million people is convulsing.  The people are highly polarized, angry and malnourished. This is a nation in which America has invested over $50 billion of our national treasure, since 1979.  Egypt is a nation that is being strangled by economic mismanagement. The price of basic food items like fava beans and any other form of protein has risen astronomically, while most of the population lives on less than two dollars a day. Yet, most of the American foreign aid money is spent on the military.

This is a nation whose Muslim Brotherhood government of Mohamed Morsi sentenced 43 NGO’s, including 16 Americans, to jail terms for crimes against the state this past April. This is a nation in which one American, Robert Becker, of the National Democratic Institute, was sentenced to 2 years in prison, and forced to flee Egypt, because of the crime of trying to help build the institutions of a democracy. This is a nation which raided the offices of Freedom House and the International Republican Institute, forcing their workers to flee for their very lives.

This is a nation whose Coptic Christian minority of 8 million, along with the other religious minority groups have faced unprecedented abuse, killings, torture, discrimination and fear, since Mohamed Morsi’s assumed office in June of 2012.

What many people might not be aware of is that there have been many efforts by members of Congress to end, alter or condition the aid to Egypt in an effort to promote democracy building, human rights and respect for the rule of law. These include efforts by Senator Rand Paul,(R-KY), where as recently as today, he took to the floor of the Senate demanding to cease the $1.3 billion we give to Egypt a year, due to the despotic nature of the Muslim Brotherhood government.  In addition to Senator Paul, Senators Marco Rubio, John McCain, and James Inhofe, have also introduced legislation to cease or condition Egypt Aid. In the House, similar legislation has been introduced by Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Vern Buchanan, Austin Scott, and Paul Gosar.

Yet, Secretary of State Kerry, very quietly and behind closed doors in May of 2013 waived all Congressional conditions on aid to Egypt.

This violates Public Law 112-74, which clearly spells out that in order to obtain American funding the Secretary of State must certify that, not only is Egypt honoring its peace treaty with Israel, but that it is “supporting the transition to civilian government, including holding, free and fair elections, implementing policies to protect freedom of expression, association, religion and due process of law.”“

This is not the first time that the Obama administration has waived provisions of the law in regard to military aid to Egypt.  The United States Department of State published an interview on September 29, 2011 with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sarif Amir of the Egyptian television station, Al Hayt, in which the former Secretary of State said:

“I very much support continuing aid…We believe in aid to your military, without any conditions, no conditionality, I’ve made it very clear.”

Since the election of Mohamad Morsi we, at EMET, have been warning that one election does not a democracy make. We Jews know through our long and painful history that Hitler also came in through a process of democratic elections, as did Hamas, in Gaza. We have been saying that there have to be the institutions of a democracy in place: a free and independent press, a free and independent judiciary, freedom of religion, freedom for ethnic minorities, freedom of assembly, and freedom to petition the government.

Is this iron-clad commitment to pouring money down the sink-hole of Egypt, particularly military aid, to the repressive, Islamist government of Mohamad Morsi helpful? And for those who might say that military aid has resulted in the current pressure by the Egyptian Army against the Muslim Brotherhood, ask yourself why the Obama Administration warned, “the Egyptian military that it risked losing U.S. aid if it carried out a coup”.

Just ask the millions of people on the streets of Cairo, today, who are holding up large signs in English and in Arabic, that read, “Obama supports terrorism.”

Meanwhile, while this important regional player is imploding, Secretary of State Kerry is closing his eyes to the Egyptian convulsion and focusing his efforts on attempts to bring the Palestinians and Israelis together to the negotiating table in yet another re-run of the same old discredited “peace process.” A process that is doomed to failure since the Palestinians have no real interest in peace. Kerry’s actions underscore the profound mis-reading of the Middle East and our nation’s single-factor analysis that peace between Israel and the Palestinians is the most crucial factor to peace in the region. This analysis is not credible, while 100,000 Muslims have been brutally slaughtered by their own in Syria, Iran is assiduously working on becoming a nuclear power and Egypt is going down in flames and starvation.

The inability of this Administration to develop a policy which reflects the Middle East as it truly is, only serves to further weaken America’s international standing and credibility.

Originally published at https://balfourpost.com/while-egypt-burns/

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About the Author

Sarah Stern
Sarah Stern is founder and president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET).

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