The recent decision of the Obama Administration to unilaterally withhold military aid and support without consulting Congress sends the message the United States is on the side of terrorists, instead of with those who are fighting terrorism. Instead of condemning the Egyptian people and their aspirations of a new democratic and free Egypt, the United States should be supporting and learning from Egypt’s war on terror.
I arrived in Cairo on July 3rd at the same moment that Morsi was removed from power in response to overwhelming popular protests – among the largest in human history – calling for him to stand down and call for new elections. In the face of Morsi’s intransigence and refusal to recognize he had lost Egypt’s support, the Egyptian military was faced with either removing him or civil war. At the same time Egypt continued to face a terrorist insurgency in the Sinai tolerated by Morsi that was killing military, police and civilians alike.
Contrary to the reporting in the western media, the Muslim Brotherhood supporters are not the “peaceful” protestors they claim to be. I have been on three trips to Egypt since the removal of Morsi; I have traveled to Minya and Delga to visit the churches, schools, orphanages, homes, shops and police stations that were attacked and destroyed by the Muslim Brotherhood. Even Amnesty International acknowledges that the Muslim Brotherhood engaged in repeated acts of torture and murder in their supposedly “peaceful” protests at Rabaa al-Adawiya. Any conclusion apart from recognizing that they are terrorists who have perpetrated and incited violent acts against innocent Egyptian citizens is a hard departure from reality.
The coverage in the Western media of the widespread terrorism has been spotty. Yes, they have reported on the 60 churches that were burned and destroyed, but not so much the 1,000 Coptic shops and homes that were attacked and the 40 police stations were burned and destroyed by supporters of the Morsi regime. But the loss of life of the Egyptian military, police and citizens committed by Morsi supporters receives considerably less attention. Where is the international community’s condemnation of the Muslim Brotherhood for the killing of 286 police, military and civilians in Rabaa Square on August 14th, or the 21 killed in Nahda Square, or the 15 civilians killed in Hulwan, or the 200 civilians that were killed across the country?
These acts were all committed by those who were supposedly “peacefully” protesting the ouster of Morsi. In his recent interview with Al-Masry Al-Youm, Defense Minister Gen. Abdel Fatah El-Sisi said that the Muslim Brotherhood was allowed 48 days to protest, and Egyptian authorities enforced a standing court order to clear Rabaa Square and other areas only after it was clear that weapons were being smuggled into these “peaceful” protests. These so-called “peaceful” protestors also used machetes, firearms, RPG’s, looted and then burned to the ground the churches, schools, orphanages, shops, and homes in response.
In Delga, Morsi supporters seized the entire village and held the Christians hostage while making them pay the jizya for over a month until the Egyptian military and police liberated the village, arrested the perpetrators and provided security for the people.
Since the removal of Morsi, members of the Muslim Brotherhood have dropped their peaceful mask and revealed their true face of violence by associating with terrorist groups like Al Qaeda and Hamas for operations in the Sinai. In response to these violent acts, the Egyptian Army has launched the largest military operation to eradicate terrorism in the Sinai and have stated that they will continue until the Sinai is “terrorist-free”.
Egyptian law enforcement units of the armed forces and police have raided and destroyed various terrorist locations in the Sinai. They have destroyed weapon storage locations for the terrorists that had large quantities of arms, ammunition, explosive belts, and high explosive material. They have destroyed vehicles owned by the terrorists that were equipped with heavy and medium weapons used by terrorists in attacking the security points of the army and police in the Sinai.
The Egyptian armed forces have closed around 300 tunnels that were used for smuggling goods and arms from Egypt across the border to the Gaza Strip. To prevent inciting more violence, 55,000 unlicensed radical clerics have been banned from preaching in mosques.
The Taliban issued a statement calling for Islamic scholars and preachers to stand against the Egyptian authorities. The spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who has called for the killing of American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, issued a fatwa in support of Morsi and called for the Islamist youth to go to Egypt for jihad against the Egyptian Army.
Al-Qaeda’s Egyptian leader Ayman al-Zawahiri condemned the disposal of Morsi and criticized the Islamists for losing power and not uniting to implement Sharia. In a released video, he stated “we have to admit first that legitimacy does not mean elections and democracy, but legitimacy is the Shariah, which is above all the constitutions and laws”. The Al Qaeda linked group in the Sinai, Ansar Beit al-Magdis, denounced the Egyptian Army as “an enemy of Allah” and declared war against them.
Egypt is fighting the very same terrorists fueled by the ideology that killed 3,000 Americans on 9-11, thousands of U.S. military personnel in Iraq, and are still killing our troops in Afghanistan today. And the decision by the Obama administration to suspend most of the military aid while they are in the midst of this pitched battle with terrorists in their midst sends a clear message: Egypt is going to have to fight this war on terror alone.
I have spent about two months in Egypt since the removal of Morsi in July. Here in Egypt, on every Egyptian channel on the left hand corner are the words “Egypt’s war on terrorism”. They show videos honoring the fallen soldiers and policemen and play patriotic Egyptian music. They understand who the terrorists are and they are not afraid or politically correct to do something about it. These are sentiments Americans should welcome, not punish.
For most Egyptians, there’s no misunderstanding who the enemy is. And unlike Americans, who are fight the terror threat abroad on the other side of the world, Egyptians are having to fight it right at home. And now our longtime ally in the Middle East has to fight it on their own now that the U.S. has abandoned them. It should be no surprise that Egyptians are asking hard questions about which side of the war on terror the Obama administration is really on.
People want to live in peace. In speaking with Muslims from Libya, Syria and Tunisia, they all tell me that they want what is happening in Egypt to happen in their country. They say that Egypt has taken measures to stop the spread of political Islam and terrorism. They want that for their country. I believe and hope what is happening in Egypt will spread to Libya, to Syria, to Tunisia and across the globe to counter the rise of political Islam.
If America and the world would follow and support Egypt’s war on terror, I believe we would actually be winning the war. Egypt has brought hope and a strategy for winning the war on terror and it would behoove America to take heed to their efforts.