BLOG 250 April 27, 2015
This past week’s news reports from the Middle East high-lighted the story of hundreds of refugees fleeing from Libya and drowning in the Mediterranean Sea. Cairo predicted such a fate in February when they accused the West of ignoring Egypt’s plight under attack in the Sinai and from Libya by Islamist terrorism. The United States along with Qatar and Turkey were viewed as hostile toward Egypt. Indeed, the Obama Administration’s policy has been as confused as the rioting in the streets of Cairo.
In the middle of increasing terrorism across the whole area, Egypt has now turned to Russia as a new ally. Discussions are currently underway for an arms deal. Under Gamal Abdel Nasser’s administration, the Soviet Union had a major foothold in Egypt but was run out as their own self-serving intentions became obvious. However, the new emergence of an arms deal is not good for the USA and reflects Obama’s retreat from leadership in the area.
Worried because of Egyptian instability caused by the Muslim Brotherhood and the rampant reaction of their military, the USA has been wary of what might come next and has been cautious. Still, Egypt needs America and America needs Egypt. It’s time to rethink support for Egypt. Their having to go it alone will only lead to bitterness within Egyptian leadership.
The Egyptian military has been moving swiftly through the courts to stabilize the country and make it clear that conflict will not be tolerated. The Muslim Brotherhood has virtually been wiped out except for those who have gone underground. Court dockets are full with President Sisi standing in the backroom making sure all decisions favor the state. A death penalty was recently executed on an Islamist supporter of ousted President Morsi. The man was convicted of murder during the political violence following the military take-over in 2013 when teenagers were thrown from the rooftop of a water tower. The death penalty has been carried out at least nine times since Sisi gained control.
On Saturday, April 12, the Egyptian court sentenced an American to life imprisonment for supporting the Islamist protest against the ouster of Morsi. Mohamed Soltan was sentenced along with 35 other defendants for the same provocation. Another dozen persons were sentenced to death. Even journalists have received prison terms for stories the state claimed to be false but the truth actually put the current administration in a bad light. The world knows that any country that jails journalists is on a slippery slope.
These sweeping penalties have received denunciation from groups within Egypt and milder rebukes from Western diplomats. However, the sentences reflect how seriously the Egyptian power structure views any interruptions of everyday and governmental life.
It appears that the pendulum that swung to the far left with Morsi and then to the far right with Sisi still needs to find balance. In the mean time, a religious war rages across Egypt’s borders and the ISIS mentality has proven deadly.
While foreign aid embargos from the USA have been lifted, Egypt needs more help from the USA.