Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Egypt: The Decline Of U.S. Influence?

What Leverage Will The US Have In Post-Mubarak Egypt?

Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, made her first visit to Egypt since the first democratically elected president was inaugurated.

Clinton has met with the two central players in the power struggle playing out in Egypt.

On Saturday, she held her first meeting with President Mohamed Morsi, an Islamist who emerged from the country's long-oppressed Muslim Brotherhood movement.

On Sunday, she met with Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, who as the head of the Military Council has ruled Egypt for the last 16 months.

But the transition to civilian rule has not been smooth. The military has retained overwhelming powers for itself, including legislative power and control of the writing of a new constitution.

The US faces many difficulties when it comes to dealing with a post-Mubarak Egypt - not least its attempt to wield its influence amid the competing political power struggles. And making sure that Egypt respects its international agreements, especially its treaty with Israel.

Eager to be seen as a champion of democracy and human rights, the US has criticised Egypt's military as it grabs more power. And it has offered words of support for the Muslim Brotherhood, making those uncomfortable who are sceptical of the Brotherhood's intentions.

The discomfort manifested itself in protests at the weekend. On Sunday, some threw tomatoes, water bottles and shoes at Clinton's motorcade as she left a ceremony marking the opening of a new US consulate in Alexandria.

At a news conference in Cairo, Clinton was asked if she regretted America's past support for Hosni Mubarak.

She answered: "We worked with the government of the country at the time. We work with governments around the world, we agree with some of them, we disagree with others of them. We were consistent in promoting human rights and speaking out for an end to the emergency war, an end to political prisoners being detained so I think you have to put this in context."

Clinton also made clear that she wants the Egyptian army to withdraw from politics.

"The United States supports the full transition to civilian rule with all that entails and we have commended the SCAF for representing the Egyptian people in the revolution, as compared to what we are seeing in Syria, which is the military murdering their own people. The SCAF here protected the Egyptian nation and we commend them for overseeing a free, fair election process. But there is more work ahead," said the US secretary of state.
So, what influence does the US have in a post-Mubarak Egypt?

"Unfortunately, the United States' administration, for the past 60 years, has been supporting dictatorship(s) in the Arab and Muslim world. From what they saw happening in the Arab Spring, I think the people in the Arab world have spoken and the United States' administration has to listen to the voices of the people and they have no other option but to support democracy in Egypt as well as in the Arab world."
Abdulmawgoud Dardery, an MP who represents Luxor for the Freedom and Justice Party

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