Westminster Institute sponsored a delegation to Cairo to meet with key governmental, civic and religious leaders.
The delegation was led by Dr. Patrick Sookhdeo, Chairman of the Board of the Westminster Institute, and retired Major General Paul Vallely, US Army. Other members included Tera Dahl, Westminster Institute, Dr. Sebastian Gorka of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, retired Colonel Ken Allard PhD, former Dean of the National War College, retired Lt. Colonel Rick Francona, military analyst with CNN, retired Lt. Colonel Bill Cowan and KT McFarland, both with FOX News, and Scott Taylor, former Navy SEAL.
Egypt is a key strategic partner of the United States and the most populous of the Arab nations. Its stability and prosperity are a primary concern for Americans. However, the violence in Syria as well as the budget crisis in the United States, have pushed Egypt to the sidelines at a crucial time in its own history. This lack of attention is being exploited by extremists who wish to regain control of this ancient nation. Still fragile from its recent overthrow of the Mubarak regime, Egypt is struggling with a severe downturn in its economy, a rise in violence, and an influx of foreign terrorists and weapons into the Sinai as a result of the fighting in Syria. The delegation’s visit was driven by the conviction that America must not turn its back on Cairo since the loss of Egypt would be a major victory for Al Qaeda and its allies.
The members of the delegation met with the President of the new Constitutional Committee of 50, His Excellency Amr Moussa; with His Holiness, Pope Tawadros II, Head of the Coptic Christian Church; General Abdel Fattah el Sisi, Commander of the Egyptian Armed Forces and Minster of Defense; local businessmen, and leaders from Tamarod (Rebellion) the movement whose collection of 22 million signatures led to the recent removal of the Muslim Brotherhood-led government of Mohammad Morsi.
The key point of contention over Egypt today is the interpretation of the events of the summer. Did the ouster of Morsi constitute a coup or a revolution? Among those with whom the delegation met there was compelling unanimity that the Muslim Brotherhood government had thoroughly betrayed the people’s expectations for democratic rule and were serving solely their own narrow interests.
While it is true that the Muslim Brotherhood had been freely elected after Mubarak left office, in the twelve months that Morsi was President it became clear that his administration did not represent the people of Egypt but instead the religiously fundamentalist and undemocratic objectives of the Brotherhood. When Morsi issued a presidential decree that gave him unlimited powers – which could not be reviewed by any judiciary – Tamarod, a new civil movement, called the people to the streets, and Egyptians responded in the millions.
By April of this year 22 million signatures had been collected calling for Morsi’s resignation and new elections, but the President refused to recognize his loss of legitimacy. By the end of June, millions of Egyptians were on the streets again. The military, fearing a civil war, asked Morsi to call a new election, but again Morsi refused. As a result, General Sisi publicly asked the people of Egypt to come out once more as a sign of whether the government should go.
Eventually 33 million citizens took to the street, more than one third of the population, with a clear message: Morsi and his administration no longer represented the people of Egypt. Morsi was removed and his government replaced not by a military junta but by a civilian interim government of technocrats, which is today in power and which has invited representatives from across society – including the Brotherhood – to participate in drafting a new constitution. The MB has boycotted this body.
Members of the Westminster delegation were told that the new constitution would include an impeachment mechanism, since it was the absence of such a recall option that necessitated Morsi’s removal with the support of the armed forces.
Key findings of the delegation are as follows:
- The events of July 2013 should not been seen as a coup, but as a result of the loss of popular mandate by the Brotherhood and the absence of an impeachment process.
- The interim government has the support of the majority of the Egyptian people and is therefore legitimate.
- The security of the United States and her citizens is intrinsically linked to the stability of Egypt. As a result of the events in Libya and the war in Syria, weapons and jihadists have penetrated into Egypt through the Sinai. If these groups are not neutralized then we may lose the biggest Arab state in the world, a state that has been a close ally of the US since the Camp David Accords.
- One of the foundations of the U.S./Egypt relationship is the military partnership. Since the Camp David Accords, Egypt has been modernizing its military and relying more heavily on the United States. Today, less than half of Egypt’s armed forces’ hardware is Soviet-pattern weaponry, but its reliance on Moscow and other non-American suppliers may rapidly increase unless Washington lifts its embargo on U.S. military aid and equipment.
- US-Egyptian relations must not be held hostage to a false narrative that speaks of military coup and sees the Muslim Brotherhood as just another political organization. The MB is, and always has been, committed to establishing exclusively Muslim regimes which deny the rights of minorities, especially Jews and Christians, and is defined at its core by its hatred of America and the West.
- Egypt needs America’s help to stabilize the country, defeat the jihadis and build a free Egypt. The economy is in dire straits since the main source of income, tourism, has ground to a halt as a result of misrepresentation of the truth on the ground.