After the Muslim Brotherhood’s Egyptian Coup – Can We Stop Funding Egypt Now?
On August 12, 2012, Egyptian president, and “former” member of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), Mohamed Morsi sacked the entire leadership of the country’s defense establishment. He fired Defense Minister Mohamed Hussein Tantawi and Chief of Staff Sami Anan, among others. He also cancelled all constitutional changes that gave the military enlarged powers over foreign and military policy making, leaving himself alone in the governmental driver’s seat. And Morsi has cancelled the old constitutional drafting process and plans to develop a new process for drafting Egypt’s new constitution. This was all in reaction to last week’s Sinai terror attack by Islamists from the Gaza strip, in which 16 Egyptian policemen were killed. As Barry Rubin has written, Morsi “is now the democratically elected dictator of Egypt”, and even a columnist from the usually liberal TIME Magazine confirms Rubin’s sentiment.
Considering all of this, can we dispense with our silly policy of funding the (now) Islamist controlled Egypt?
In a prior column, I noted some of the many perfidies of the Egyptian regime towards the U.S. and U.S. interests (including the interests of our democratic ally, Israel), other “realist” reasons not to support Egypt, and called for a cessation of the annual $1 billion plus U.S. aid to that nation. As demonstrated by the recent Egyptian coup, since my prior column the “bad behavior” of the newly consolidated MB government has only continued, reinforcing the original truth of my argument.
For example, the MB continues to support terrorism. Even before he was inaugurated as the new President, Mohammed Morsi vowed to free the “Blind Sheikh,” Omar Abdel-Rahman. Rahman is the spiritual and terrorist leader of the men convicted in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, who is now serving a life term in the U.S. for a plot to blow up New York City landmarks. The 1993 Towers Attack, which is often overshadowed by the more destructive attack on 9/11/01, involved a bomb in a parked Ryder truck that was intended to bring both towers down and kill thousands of people. Instead, the 1993 blast only killed six people and injured more than a 1000 others. Also, the MB leadership in Egypt sent a delegation to the White House that included Hani Nour Eldin, who is both an elected member of Egyptian parliament and a member of the Gamaa Islamiya, i.e., the Egyptian Islamic Group—a U.S.-designated terrorist organization. Eldin used his White House trip to request that the Blind Sheikh be transferred to an Egyptian prison, as a “gift to the (Egyptian) revolution.” A prior Egyptian delegation to the U.S. government included Abdul Mawgoud Dardery, a former resident of the U.S. who had been implicated – though not charged – in a U.S. child pornography investigation, according to the Investigative Project on Terrorism.
What is worse is that President Mohamed Morsi has provided far more substantial assistance to terrorists. Morsi has (so far) freed 17 Islamists jailed for terrorism during President Hosni Mubarak’s era. Those released include other members of the above mentioned Gama’a Islamiya, jailed during the group’s armed insurrection against the state in the 1990s, and also members of Islamic Jihad, the movement behind the 1981 assassination of President Sadat. This is on top of the 2,000 Islamists that were released in the 18 months since Mubarak was removed from power, many of them last year on the orders of the council of military generals that steered the transition. One such prominent terrorist is Mohamed al-Zawahri, the brother of Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri.
Further, Morsi and the MB are playing footsy with the genocidal mad mullahs of Iran. Just this month, Morsi met with Iran’s vice president in the highest-level official contact between the two nations in decades. Morsi’s visit “gave Iran a diplomatic coup amid sharpening international pressure over its nuclear program and links to Syria.”
For that matter, as a former member of the MB, Morsi doesn’t get along well with our staunch ally, Israel. He is fiercely anti-Israel, and it has been reported that he plans to amend the Camp David Accords to “ensure Egypt’s full sovereignty and control over every inch of Sinai” so as to remove those treaty clauses “not deemed beneficial to Egyptian interests.” Since the chaos of this week began, Egypt has even refused to maintain contact with Israel.
And President Morsi and the MB continue to show disregard for basic human rights, such as freedom of religion and freedom of press, in their quest to implement Sharia law. They continue to lead or sanction the persecution of the Coptic Christian minority. Recently, the entire Christian population of the town of Dahshur was forced to flee from Muslim-initiated violence. This occurred when a Coptic launderer accidentally burned the shirt of a Muslim client, which led to fierce fighting in the town. Apparently, this violence was intensified by a Muslim-Brotherhood cleric who roamed the village “vowing that the village church of St. George will be burned down, its pastor and all the entire Christian inhabitants killed and their homes torched after the burial of Moaz tonight. Then, hundreds of Muslims began looting and burning Coptic businesses and homes, and the Christians all fled. Also, Morsi and the MB increasingly act to limit the freedom of the press and information. Already, the MB controlled Parliament has announced the appointment of new Islamist friendly editors-in-chief of state-owned publications. These new editors will try to make sure that no “unfriendly” views of the MB or President Morsi emerge in any such government controlled newspaper. And, if these unfriendly views somehow sneak through, the MB regime also has no problem with confiscating an offending publication, accusing members of the press of sedition, or even physically attacking them. Plus, they are already starting to ban books that the MB does not agree with.
In addition to these reasons to axe U.S. aid to Egypt, consider this – the fiscal status of Egypt is increasingly grim. “(T)he country is nearly dead broke, and close to the point where it no longer can finance its $36 billion annual trade deficit.” The Gulf nation of Qatar may have promised $2 billion in aid to Egypt, but this “is a drop in the bucket; it just replaces the reserves that Egypt lost last month. So is a $3.5 billion IMF loan, under discussion for a year. The Obama administration has been telling people quietly that the Saudis will step in to bail out Egypt, but the Qatari intervention makes this less likely,” since Saudi Arabia apparently wants Morsi and his MB government to take the blame for Egypt’s impending economic disaster. The fact is, Egypt will collapse, regardless of the aid the U.S. gives it. As a result, handing out cash to the MB in Egypt is simply a waste of precious U.S. resources.
So, putting this all together: if our national security interests, our moral concerns, and our own fiscal problems all weight against the U.S. continuing to fund the MB government in Egypt, then perhaps, just maybe, we should stop funding it? Don’t you think?
And, for God sakes, can President Obama please disinvite President Morsi from his planned trip to the White House? Why is the U.S. even thinking of rewarding the Middle East’s newest Islamist dictator with a state visit?
Adam Turner serves as staff counsel to the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET). He is a former counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee where he focused on national security law.