Cut Egypt Loose
Marc Lynch reacts to the latest violence in Egypt:
With blood in Egypt’s streets and a return to a state of emergency, it’s time for Washington to stop pretending. Its efforts to maintain its lines of communication with the Egyptian military, quietly mediate the crisis, and help lay the groundwork for some new, democratic political process have utterly failed. Egypt’s new military regime, and a sizable and vocal portion of the Egyptian population, have made it very clear that they just want the United States to leave it alone. For once, Washington should give them their wish. As long as Egypt remains on its current path, the Obama administration should suspend all aid, keep the embassy in Cairo closed, and refrain from treating the military regime as a legitimate government.
Lynch is right on this. It might have seemed clever to withhold judgment on the July coup and try to nudge the military towards a return to elected government, but this was interpreted by all sides as a positive endorsement of the coup and confirmation that there was nothing that the Egyptian military did that would trigger the suspension of aid. The attempt to retain “leverage” confirmed that the U.S. never really had any. The U.S. can’t constructively influence what the Egyptian military and its interim government do, and it should stop pretending that it can. This isn’t going to remedy any of Egypt’s ills, but it would be the first step in acknowledging that it is beyond the ability of the U.S. government to remedy them. In the meantime, it does nothing but harm America’s reputation to be backing a coup government that kills civilian protesters in the streets. It costs the U.S. very little to end that support, and it gains the U.S. nothing but grief to continue the status quo.