Morning Bell: Why Does Egypt’s Turmoil Matter to Us?

Amy Payne /

Egypt has been rocked by protests that some say are the largest in history and has unseated its second leader in three years. It’s a bit difficult for us to imagine ousting a president in such a way—so what do the events in Egypt mean to Americans?

The Obama Administration has bungled the entire Egyptian revolution, Heritage experts say, and that will have lasting consequences.

President Obama backed the administration of Mohamed Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, who was just ousted by the protesters and the military. As Heritage expert James Phillips noted, “Egyptian protesters have been carrying signs denouncing President Obama for supporting terrorism, because they are disappointed by Obama’s uncritical support for Morsi, whom they consider to be a terrorist.”

Heritage Distinguished Fellow Kim Holmes says there are two reasons why Obama has gone wrong in Egypt:

The first is he sincerely believes that too much American influence is a bad thing. Believing deeply that American power is a problem, he seems to think remaining aloof will prove that America is not an inveterate enemy of political Islam.

… The other reason? Obama is confused about what constitutes democracy. Even though he himself said democracy is “more than elections,” that is not the way he’s acted. He watched as the election process chose the worst of the political lot in Egypt, all the while claiming that the U.S. should not “interfere” with the democratic rights of the people. He talked a good game, but his passivity only legitimized the claims that the Brotherhood is a “true” democratic force in Egypt (which they decidedly are not).

>>> 4 Steps the U.S. Should Take to Address the Egypt Crisis

The “Arab Spring” is a messy thing. Democracy is a goal, yes, but Egyptians desperately need economic freedom. As Heritage’s Charlotte Florance explains:

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.

To bring back their economy, the Egyptian people will need a stable rule of law. The military has control of the country now, but it will have to hold elections soon to establish a government. Meanwhile, the U.S. is waiting—or should be waiting—to see how it goes before promising further aid to the country.


Get the facts about U.S. aid to Egypt

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