Stability or Freedom?
“Washington issued around 10 contradictory statements within a 24-hour period” was a statement from an Asharq Alawsat article regarding the situation in Cairo, Egypt. Without question, the convoluted nature of this moment is problematic. However, sending mixed and confusing signals paves the road only with good intentions, not a commitment to solutions.
A few things that haven’t been in press accounts that do matter in the response our nation should provide:
1. In a May 2009 Washington Post article, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates when asked whether U.S. aid to Egypt would be linked in the future to democracy or human rights, the Pentagon chief answered that “foreign military financing” for Mr. Mubarak’s autocracy “should be without conditions. And that is our sustained position.” This is a departure from terms accompanying aid in the past. Specifically, in 2008, at least $45 million had to be designated for programs for “Governing justly and democratically” to “civil society” groups independent of the Mubarak government and military. Safwat Girgis, director of one of these groups that promotes rights of women and the disabled and facilitates communication with Egypt’s Christians was denied funding, noted, “Obama wants to democratize the region the way the leaders of the Arab countries want, not the way the Arab people want.” These efforts to “promote human rights, hold the government accountable and promote reform” ended with the 2009 budget and no-conditions policy.
2. The Muslim Brotherhood, mentioned frequently as a terrorist organization involved in supporting the uprising against the current autocracy, has stated its desire to form an Islamist state in Egypt, the Arab world’s largest nation. Al-Alam, an Iranian newspaper quoted a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt that he would “like to see the Egyptian people prepare for war against Israel” and that the “Suez Canal should be closed immediately” with the “flow of gas from Egypt to Israel” halted. An Islamist state has as its supreme law, the Qur’an driving Shariah Law. This is important in that “freedom” in an Islamist state is very much unlike the self-determination that fuels America and other free nations. Instead, it’s defined as perfect submission to Allah’s representative on earth, the Islamic state.
Current American leaders have stated support of “democracy” and “freedom” while putting no conditions on the very pipeline of money feeding the Egyptian economy. If America’s goal is stability, we should remain neutral, place no conditions on the almost $2 billion annually awarded since 1979.
If America’s goal is a move toward freedom for the people of Egypt, conditions must be placed on each dollar awarded with the irrevocable mandate that no aid will be sent if the Muslim Brotherhood, a proven terrorist organization, is in leadership:
a. Egypt must have fair elections free of corruption and intimidation with meaningful participation of citizens to form a representative government
b. Egypt must recognize property rights of its citizens to break the cycle of poverty
c. Egypt must restore and maintain open communications for citizens, such as the internet and all telecommunications
The vehicle for success in a transitional government would be using the Turkish model leveraging the respected strength of the Egyptian military to establish order and authority with a parallel course that permits candidates to emerge in a cooling-off period. This time allows exposure of predatory groups, like the Muslim Brotherhood, who have designs to corrupt an authentic national movement that could result in lasting reforms
The solutions are difficult and will be long-ranging in nature. However, America can lead to the path of liberty by focusing on the people and not exclusively the political leaders.