Egyptians began their fireworks celebration a little early this year, but I’m not ready to celebrate with them just yet.
Both Egyptians and Americans are celebrating the Egyptian revolution which resulted in former President Mohamed Morsi’s impeachment. While this is a prime example of what people are able to accomplish as a collective when a violent oligarchy imposes its will upon the people, revolutions do not always produce the best result. After all, Morsi’s election was a direct result of former President Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year tyrannical reign coming to an abrupt end by the will of the people. The stark difference between former Presidents Mubarak and Morsi is Morsi was freely elected by the Egyptian people. In fact, Morsi was Egypt’s very first freely elected president in Egypt’s history. Although Morsi only won against his opponent Ahmed Shafiq by a 3.4% margin, his supporters were well aware of the fact that Morsi was and is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, a terrorist organization.
Just a few short months following Morsi’s election, the Muslim Brotherhood introduced their controversial, Sharia-law based constitution to the people. Only 33% of eligible voters showed up at the polls; of the 33%, 63.8% overwhelmingly voted in favor of the document. A 33% turnout of a whopping 52 million registered voters is very telling. For the first time in history, Egyptians got their well-deserved shot at democracy, and only 17 million cared enough to show up at the polls. In one instant, Egyptians are under complete tyranny, and in the next instant, they have the opportunity to make their voices heard, but opt out by not showing up. This is a firsthand lesson in cause and effect. You cannot expect to gain freedom and maintain it while voluntarily keeping your eyes closed to what is going on around you.
While Egyptians are primarily to blame for their present state, President Obama’s hands are far from clean. In the first revolution, Obama sided with the protesters, specifically the youth. Obama instructed Mubarak on leadership and heeding to the voice of the Egyptian people: “. . . the future of Egypt will be determined by the Egyptian people.” Former White House spokesman Robert Gibbs stated that the administration may not continue to provide $1.5 billion in aid annually depending on Mubarak’s willingness to comply with Obama’s demands.
Now, fast forward to the second revolution. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki stated that the U.S. will not take sides, that we are remaining neutral. Yet, days before, when the Egyptian military gave Morsi a 48-hour ultimatum, President Obama warned the military against overthrowing Morsi. (Wait, isn’t that taking a position?)
The Muslim Brotherhood rejected the military’s ultimatum, and President Obama subsequently announced that his administration is reviewing the continuation of U.S. aid to Egypt. (What was that about not taking sides again?) When the Egyptian military forcefully removed Morsi from office and suspended the constitution, Obama expressed how “deeply concerned” he was with the military’s actions. I would imagine so, considering his unrelenting push to get rid of Mubarak and his close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.
As a matter of fact, President Obama’s history with the Muslim Brotherhood came long before the 2011 revolution which ended Mubarak’s presidency. In the beginning of 2009, the Egyptian daily newspaper reported that Obama quietly met with members of the Muslim Brotherhood in Washington, D.C. (President Obama and members of the Muslim Brotherhood have continued to meet since then.) Keep in mind that the Muslim Brotherhood was banned in Egypt for terrorism until the Arab Spring revolution, which took place in 2011.
It is apparent that President Obama was heavily invested in a Muslim Brotherhood-run Egypt. And so were your tax dollars. Our president was going to continue to provide $1.5 billion in aid annually, in addition to gifting the Brotherhood with over two dozen F-16s (to add to Egypt’s ready-made collection of 200 F-16s), so long as the Muslim Brotherhood was in power. Now he suddenly wants his gifts back.
It is as if it is 2011 all over again. With Morsi out of office, the military has once again assumed control. A military-run country is not ideal, but
until the next election, instability is to be expected. The Obama administration clearly chose the wrong side of history. Egyptian protesters not only blamed President Obama for enabling former President Morsi, they noticed that he sided with the revolutionaries in 2011, but sided with the dictator in 2013. Resultantly, our alliance with Egypt will remain one of uncertainty until the next elect takes his place in office. This also means that Israel’s 34-year peace treaty with Egypt, which has been threatened since Mubarak’s removal, will hang in the balance until it is reaffirmed. If it is reaffirmed.
Two years, two revolutions and two presidents later, the obvious question is this: what is next for Egypt?