Ever wish you could have the best of both worlds? Ever tried and ended up with nothing? That’s exactly what’s happening in the current Obama Administration approach to Egypt.
The Daily Beast has reported that quietly, US President Barack Obama has put financial aid to Egypt’s military on hold, along with other aid to Egypt. That’s over half a billion dollars in limbo, due to the Egyptian government’s bloody crackdown on a violent opposition. The threat of lost aid is a powerful tool. But what Obama is doing is going too far and yet not far enough at the same time, and it’s not working.
As one Republican political source said to The Daily Beast, Obama’s approach to Egypt manages to both harm a useful ally (the Egyptian military) and appear to not care about human rights, all at the same time. So while he apparently wants to maintain maximum flexibility, he’s actually backing America into a corner.
Technically, The Daily Beast noted that the aid to Egypt is due for payment until towards the end of September. So at this point, not giving them the aid is really a threat, rather than a reality. They can always restore aid just in time for the payout. Basically, the current move gives the Egyptian military a timeline (one month) and incentive to stop the violence.
The problem with Obama’s approach is two-fold: First, he fails to recognize that not all the protestors and opposition in Egypt are peaceful. There are real terrorists fighting the Egyptian army, especially in the wild Sinai region. In light of this, Obama’s decision to withhold Apache helicopters the Egyptian army has already purchased is particularly mistaken.
How are civilians being killed in the streets? With helicopters and tanks? No, with guns and small-level weapons. It’s for the actual threat, the brutal terrorists that are attacking Israel and coordinating with Al-Qaeda, that the Egyptian army most buy phentermine online us pharmacy needs the helicopters. So while it looks like a half-hearted attempt to solve things, Obama’s “punishment” really isn’t helping at all. It’s just jeopardizing a counterterrorism operation that is in America’s interest.
Second, by keeping a major move like cutting aid hush-hush, Obama is unwittingly demonstrating once again that the US has no backbone and no leadership. The world’s greatest superpower doesn’t need to hide significant steps. Threats, yes. Dialogue with allies, yes. But reality-changing decisions? No.
If Obama really believes that the current Egyptian course will necessitate a complete cessation of military aid, then he should say that. Use the public threat to cajole and convince the Egyptian army—and the popular movement in Egypt that’s supporting them—to back down and stop the fighting. Then the US looks and acts like a leader.
Better still would be for the Obama Administration to threaten a reduction in aid to Egypt, and do that quietly. If it doesn’t work, then go public. Otherwise, the US looks to be strictly motivated by self-interest and uncertain of its own morals and values.
The US is in a lose-lose situation in Egypt. One of its best Middle East allies is killing civilians on a large scale. Can the US just abandon them? But at the same time, can they ignore the human rights abuses?
That’s why creativity and wise leadership are essential. Play all the pieces, all the moves, one step at a time. Like a chessmaster, the US needs to create a winning option in Egypt by slowly nudging the military to back down and reserving their biggest threats and moves for last—demonstrating that long-time allies won’t be easily thrown under the bus of public opinion. Then, if necessary, cut ties and show the world that no one is above American values.
But right now, Obama is trying to win them all, and he’s losing everything.
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, August 21, 2013)