In a new Backgrounder, “Egypt: A Way Forward After a Step Back,” Heritage experts suggest four steps the U.S. should take to address the crisis in Egypt:
- Press Egypt’s army to hold elections and step aside as soon as possible,
- Put tight strings on any U.S. aid,
- Recalibrate U.S. aid to Egypt, and
- Seek international support for economic and political reforms.
Morsi’s Version of Democracy Was Not Genuine; It Was Authoritarian
The bloodless coup in Egypt on July 3 has created the rare opportunity for a “do-over” in a country previously on the brink of collapse under former President Mohamed Morsi, but whether Egyptians take hold of the opportunity remains to be seen.
The army acted justly to support the will of the majority of Egyptian people by removing Morsi after he repeatedly failed to respond to needs of his people.
Growing Insecurity in the Country Is Deeply Troubling and Should Be Addressed Immediately
The army’s actions ensured Egypt did not spiral out of control into Islamist dictatorship last week, but the serious challenge of limiting sectarian strife as a result of the intervention requires stymieing an angered pro-Morsi and Muslim Brotherhood portion of the population. This will be no easy task, as the Muslim Brotherhood operates a global network that is well-organized and well-funded.
The supreme leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohammed Badie, speaking at a mosque in Cairo, declared, “We are all willing to sacrifice our necks and our souls for him.” Statements such as Badie’s and the coordinated attacks in the Sinai by Islamist militants are the warning signs for what’s to come if the army is unable to maintain public support through a broad network of current, but fickle, supporters.
Violent clashes between anti-Morsi supporters (backed by the Egyptian army) and pro-Morsi supporters came to a brutal head yesterday near the Republican Guard Headquarters where over 51 people were killed and 400 injured.
For Egypt to Prosper, It Needs to Get Its Political and Economic House in Order
The Egyptian army is skirting a fine line between maintaining order and creating chaos. If the army wishes to remain respected and supported by ordinary Egyptians, Heritage experts suggest that the army needs “to put Egypt’s house in order quickly and then get out of the way.”
Egyptians need to see results, which they have been waiting for since 2011, when the army ousted Mubarak. The events of the Arab Spring in Egypt were triggered by legitimate economic grievances that, two years later, remain unanswered. As one Heritage expert recently stated, “The continuing lack of economic reforms has fueled discontent since 2011, with state finances left drained by extensive subsidies on food, energy, and other key commodities.”
Working Toward a Free Egypt Is in the U.S. National Interest
A free Egypt is in both Egyptian and U.S. interests, but if, how, and when Egypt gets there poses enormous challenges. Egyptian challenges ultimately require Egyptian solutions, but the U.S. has an opportunity to guide and foster meaningful reforms that will benefit all Egyptians overall regardless of political or religious affiliation. U.S. leadership should not shy away from difficult situations, especially when our national interests are involved.