Washington’s bulletin to Cairo’s arising leaders should be that U.S. abutment is codicillary on their cooperation in advancement accord with Israel and attention political pluralism and religious and boyhood rights.
From an American perspective, the bearings in Egypt is a nightmare. One year afterwards Tahrir Square triumphantly agitated a tyrant, Islamists are assertive to accumulation from Egyptian “people power.”
They, not liberals or secularists, accepted active at the balloter process, with the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party and the alike added fundamentalist Nour Party acceptable about two-thirds of the seats in Egypt’s abutting parliament. While both parties accept paid lip account to apropos Egypt’s all-embracing obligations, American leaders cannot avoid the actuality that the aegis affiliation Washington had with Cairo for added than 30 years is in austere jeopardy.
Some accept acceptable the Islamists’ ascendance by arguing that the albatross of babyminding will abstinent them. Experience suggests otherwise. Islamist governments in Iran, Sudan and Gaza accept accepted airy and uncompromising adjoin massive all-embracing pressure, none of which Egypt is acceptable to face anytime soon. And Turkey — the archetypal du jour — went through a bearing of military-supervised aphorism afore its Islamists, alert abandoned from backroom by the generals, assuredly begin a blueprint for governance.
Others point out that if the U.S. has congenital abutting aegis relationships with best bourgeois Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, again absolutely a Muslim Brotherhood-led Egypt can be friendly, too. But Egypt is actual different. Its Islamist anecdotal is of angry to survive adjoin the adamant anchor of a corrupt, American-backed autocrat. Anti-Americanism — forth with anti-Westernism and anti-Israelism — is acutely anchored in the DNA of Egyptian Islamist groups.
Still others pin their hopes on the actual autonomous action that is now allotment the Islamists. Play the continued game, they admonish — advice body non-Islamist political alternatives that can attempt back Egyptians vote in their additional or third elections. This access has merit, but alone if the Islamists don’t in the concurrently booty accomplish to anticipate any absolute antagonism in the future, such as acceptable the country’s Coptic boyhood — about 10%-15% of the citizenry — that it has no approaching in an Islamist Egypt. Non-Islamists angle no adventitious of balloter success if there is a Coptic exodus.
But abundant with abstract arguments. Islamists’ words and accomplishments over the antecedent few months allege for themselves, and they beforehand that key U.S. interests are acceptable to suffer.
First, Muslim Brotherhood leaders accept vowed to put Egypt’s 1979 accord accord with Israel to a accepted election — a action that they accept will let them bore the accord after actuality abhorrent for accomplishing so. That the accumulation would assignment so deviously to disengage a certificate that has prevented war for over three decades demonstrates the organization’s alternative for radicalism over realism.
Second, a Muslim Brotherhood-governed Egypt appears absorbed adjoin fueling, rather than countering, agitated extremism. In this vein, the Brotherhood’s allurement for al-Gama’a al-Islamiya to accompany its coalition, alike if rejected, should be a antecedent of grave concern. Al-Gama’a is a U.S.-designated agitator organization, and one of its top priorities is ambitious that Washington absolution Omar Abdel Rahman, the “Blind Sheikh” active in the 1993 World Trade Center attack.
Third, an Islamist-led Egypt will be brusque for religious minorities and Egyptian secularists. Newly adopted Islamist parliamentarians aim to accomplish Shariah the exclusive, not aloof the main, antecedent for Egyptian legislation — and they vow to arraign those who criticize Islamic law. The contempo case that Islamists accept brought adjoin Coptic billionaire Naguib Sawiris for tweeting a abusive angel of Mickey and Minnie Mouse dressed as Salafists is a alarming assurance of things to come.
Yet Washington has assets to bottle its equities in Egypt. At $1.2 billion, U.S. aggressive abetment is about the accretion account for the Egyptian armed forces. While the Islamists may appetite the aggressive out of politics, they additionally don’t appetite to be accused of materially abrasion the country. Absolute U.S. bread-and-butter abutment is abundant smaller, at $250 million, but America has a abundant articulation in all-embracing banking institutions to which Egypt about absolutely will about-face for help. In the advancing period, back Egypt’s Islamist politicians will analysis aloof how far the U.S. will angle to board a new political reality, the U.S. should be accommodating to use both these accoutrement to beforehand its interests.
Washington’s bulletin to Cairo’s arising leaders should be that U.S. abutment — both absolute and aberrant — is codicillary on their cooperation in advancement accord with Israel and attention political pluralism and religious and boyhood rights. America should actuate its accord based on what Egypt’s new rulers absolutely do on these issues, not the cooing sounds that their English-language spokesmen action visiting American journalists, diplomats and politicians.
Regarding Israel, artlessly not abrogating the accord accord is not enough. The Egypt-Israel accord has been bare of so abundant agreeable that there isn’t abundant larboard to the accord accord added than the absence of war. A added advantageous litmus analysis would be Egypt’s charge to advance the cadre and assets all-important to defended the Sinai Peninsula. Alone such an accomplishment will anticipate the breadth from becoming, like Gaza in the 1950s and South Lebanon in the 1970s, a safe anchorage for terrorists that is acceptable to draw Egypt and Israel into closing conflict.
Protecting political pluralism and religious and boyhood rights is trickier but no beneath important. Especially analytical is aegis for Copts, the canaries in Egypt’s atramentous mine. The fate of Egypt’s capitalism — and the affairs for the actualization of non-Islamist options — will blow on whether this millennia-old community, as able-bodied as an arrangement of added groups, feels adequate in the new Egypt. A attenuated focus on attention pluralism and boyhood rights, rather than a broader and added broadcast accomplishment to abound Egypt’s autonomous institutions, is easier to maintain, added accessory to a sticks-and-carrots abetment policy, and added acceptable to accumulate accessible approaching political alternatives.
Merely attention Egypt-Israel aegis and arresting pluralism and boyhood rights would be a far cry from the able-bodied affiliation of years past. But accustomed the duke the U.S. has been dealt, this access stands the best adventitious of attention what affairs best to abiding American interests.
Robert Satloff is controlling administrator of The Washington Institute. Eric Trager, the Institute’s Ira Weiner fellow, is a doctoral applicant in political science at the University of Pennsylvania, area he is autograph his argument on Egyptian action parties.
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