On Sunday’s Face the Nation, host Bob Schieffer, acting as if America ought to view Al Qaeda and the Egyptian military as coequal, asked Sen. Lindsay Graham if the Egyptian military’s arrest of the brother of Al Qaeda leader Mohammed Al-Zawahiri would make the America’s job too complicated. Schieffer had interviewed correspondent Charlie D’Agata, and he intoned to Graham, “You heard Charlie talk about the Egyptian generals who are trying to say this is a war against terrorists, and the fact is, the head of Al Qaeda’s brother, that’s Mr. Zawahiri, has been arrested now, and we were told he was planning to bring in armed groups to oppose the generals. Isn’t this making it even more complicated to try to figure out what we ought to do and who we ought to be supporting here?”
So first Schieffer implied the Egyptian military was lying about characterizing their opposition as terrorists, and in the very next breath he spoke of the brother of Al Qaeda’s leader being a possible part of the opposition. He followed that with the implication that both sides were equivalent.
Graham wasn’t buying it; he replied to the question:
In a way, yes, but in a way no. We can’t…after 2011 we sided with the protesters against Mubarak. There’s no going back for our country in supporting strongman dictatorships. The Muslim Brotherhood corrupted their mandate. They won the election. The Egyptian people are not terrorists; they got the majority of the vote, but after a year of governing, they drove people away. This coup, and it was a coup, has a lot of popular support. Where are we headed? We’re headed for Algeria; the Brotherhood will go underground, Al Qaeda will come to their aid, and you’re gonna have an armed insurgency, not protesters. on your hands, in the nest 60 days, or 90 days, and we’re gonna have a failed state in Egypt, and we’re gonna have to suspend our aid, because we can’t support the reaction of the military, even though the Brotherhood, overplaying their had, started this, we can’t support what the military’s doing in response.
When Schieffer suggested that cutting off aid would enable Al Qaeda to return to power, Graham replied,
Bob, Al Qaeda ‘s never gonna win at the ballot box. If there was a new election, the Brotherhood would get beat. They would be marginalized by the Egyptian people. The army is making these people martyrs…the best way to solve this problem is to write a new constitution where everybody has a say and have new elections. If you had new elections, the Brotherhood wold get creamed at the ballot box. They’re going to be a very formidable force on the streets. They’re gonna get aligned with Al Qaeda, Al Qaeda’s gonna come uninvited into Egypt, and you’re gonna have a failed state. That means gas prices go up for us, the Suez Canal gets compromised and Egypt becomes a staging area for terrorist acts against Israel. This is an absolute disaster in the making.
When asked what he would do, Graham responded, “I would tell the generals that we’re going to suspend all aid until you allow a democratic transition.” He added that General Al Sisi should stop before creating a permanent insurgency, saying, “Turn around before it’s too late…You’re a better man than that.”