U.S. is destabilizing Egypt with military funding
On July 3rd the Green Shadow Cabinet issued a statement on Egypt:
“The Green Shadow Cabinet hopes this change will lead to greater self-determination and participation by all members of Egyptian society; we are concerned by early reports of summary arrests and censorship of the media. We hope and expect that the pressure for democratization will continue, regardless of whether the government is run by Mubarak, Morsi, the military, a transition council or anyone else, until a more inclusive and participatory Egyptian government has stabilized.”
Self-determination and civilian rule continue to be the paramount hope for Egypt, yet the current Egyptian reality is deeply troubling.
On the one hand, General Abdel-Fattah al Sisi’s call for the Egyptian people to support a campaign of violence against “terrorists” can only be seen as a dangerous and shameful attempt to legitimate the slaughter of scores of supporters of the former Morsi government. The implementation of an interim constitution, the appointment of former Mubarak officials to high office, the reinstitution of Mubarak’s abusive State Security Investigations Service and overall, the institution of military rule including media censorship, political arrests, and the imprisonment of Morsi himself are deeply troubling.
On the other hand, the escalating violence by rightwing Islamists on Coptic and secular Egyptians has resulted in the killing of dozens of innocent people. And until it was removed from power, Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood was using the Egyptian state to impose religious rule and to violate women’s rights to equality in marriage, property, privacy, and personal safety. Morsi may have been elected, but those elections lacked the legitimacy his supporters claim. This was evidenced by the fact that those elections were widely seen as rigged (a supermajority of secular candidates won the most votes in the first election round, but the final choice was between a Mubarak remnant and Morsi) and as a result were boycotted by leading opposition figures. It was also evidenced by the tens of millions of Egyptians who later called for an end to the Morsi government.
What is the role of the United States of America in all of this, and what should it be?
The U.S. government trains and supplies the Egyptian military. Egypt has long been among the largest recipients of U.S. military funding.
It is clear Egypt will not have completed the transformation that its people seek until its military is thoroughly reconstructed and made subservient to civilian government. The annual $1.3 billion in military funding provided by the U.S. to Egypt is counterproductive to reigning in the military. In an earlier statement, this Cabinet indicated that the end of U.S. military funding to Egypt should be part of an overall change in foreign policy:
“The U.S. should cut military aid not only to Egypt, but also to Israel ($3 billion annually), Pakistan ($673 million), Jordan ($319 million), and the billions of additional dollars in military aid the U.S. spends annually in over 150 different countries. The U.S. needs to stop military intervention in the affairs of other nations whether directly or through military aid.”
The Egyptian military is not a neutral force in Egypt. It has ruled from within the state since the era of Nasser and continues to do so, dominating not only the security state apparatus but economic structures as well. The removal of President Morsi did not fundamentally change the power structure in Egypt, other than to weaken the once-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.
Continued U.S. funding of the Egyptian military reinforces the old power structure and impedes Egyptian progress toward democracy. The removal of U.S. military funding will only strengthen democratic forces within Egypt, shifting the balance of power toward civil society.
Despite recent events, our hopes remain with the Egyptian people. Too many commentators have underestimated the power of the Egyptian people in the removal of Morsi and Mubarak, as well as ending overt military rule in 2011. The people have demonstrated repeatedly that they are the critical force to be reckoned with and that the existing power structure is not as strong as the people have shown themselves to be. The fact that in the weeks following the ouster of Morsi, millions of Egyptians have taken to the streets in largely non-violent protests speaks to the sense in today’s Egypt that legitimacy and power remains with the people.
We hope that the current revolutionary process will eventually result in democratization not only of Egypt’s political system, but also of its economy. Economic democratization is critical to the consolidation of any democratic revolution.
Since 2010, Egyptians have rejected dictatorship, military rule, and religious rule. New younger generations of Egyptians have stepped forward to create new economic, media, and cultural institutions to provide for the needs of their fellow citizens. The current situation remains grave, but the potential for doing away with the old repressive economic and political order is present and continues to grow.
~ The Green Shadow Cabinet includes nearly 100 prominent scientists, community and labor leaders, physicians, cultural workers, veterans, and more, and provides an ongoing opposition and alternative voice to the dysfunctional government in Washington D.C.. This statement may be publishes and distributed with attribution.