Press Conference On Findings & Policy Recommendations From Westminster Institute’s Delegation to Egypt

DELEGATION OF FORMER U.S. MILITARY LEADERS, COUNTERTERRORISM EXPERTS REPORT ON SEPT. 27-30 VISIT TO EGYPT
Only Delegation of U.S. Subject Matter Experts To Meet Egyptian Leadership Since Removal of President Morsi

About the delegation

Washington, D.C., September 27, 2013 ‚Äď On Tuesday, October 1, at 9:00am in the Winners Room of the National Press Club, the leaders of an American delegation of Middle East and counterterrorism experts ‚Äď most of whom are former U.S. military officers ‚Äď held a press conference to discuss findings and policy recommendations based on a September 27-30 visit to Cairo that included meetings with Egyptian Minister of Defense el-Sisi, Egyptian military leaders, the head of Egypt’s constitution-drafting body and several leaders of various faiths.

This was the only delegation of U.S. experts on the Middle East, counter-terrorism and democracy development to have met with Minister el-Sisi and other leaders of the Egyptian government since former President Morsi was removed on July 3rd.

The delegation was sponsored by The Westminster Institute, a non-profit, non-partisan think-tank established in response to the growing threat of ideological extremism and to the perceived need to better understand and engage in the war of ideas. The Institute, which does not accept any government funds, works with the U.S. military, FBI, local law enforcement, NCTC, and DHS, as well as with the State Department and Congress.

WHAT:  Press Conference On Findings & Policy Recommendations From Westminster Institute‚Äôs Delegation Visit to Egypt On Sep. 27-30

WHO:  Delegation leaders, including:

  • Lt. Col. Rick Francona (US Air Force, Ret.), a retired intelligence officer with extensive work throughout the Middle East and military analyst for CNN.
  • Maj. Gen. Paul E. Vallely, a former Deputy Commanding General for the U.S. Army, Pacific, Command, with expertise in Special Operations, Civil-Military Operations, and counter-terrorism.
  • Col. Ken Allard (US Army, Ret.), a former Dean of the U.S. National War College and a widely known commentator on foreign policy and security issues.
  • Lt. Col. Bill Cowan (Ret.), a FOX News Channel contributor and internationally acknowledged expert in the areas of terrorism, homeland security, intelligence and military special operations.

WHEN:  Tuesday, October 1, 2013, 9:00 a.m. EDT

WHERE:  National Press Club — The Winners Room
529 14th St. NW, 13th Floor
Washington, DC 20045

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 today

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‚Äôs 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‚Äôs 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 ‚Äď 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‚Äôs 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

·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‚Äôs armed forces‚Äô 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.

Members of the delegation were available for press interviews.

Members of the Delegation at their Washington press conference Sep 3. (Rt to lt: MG Vallely, Dr Gorka, COL Allard, LTC Francona)

Transcript

Introduction

Kathryn Gorka:

Alright, welcome. I am Katie Gorka, Executive Director of the Westminster Institute. The Westminster Institute was a sponsor of this delegation that went to Egypt. They arrived Friday. They had two very intensive days of meetings, which they will tell you about. The Westminster Institute, for those of you who do not know it, is a nonprofit think tank based in McLean, Virginia. We only take funding from private individuals and foundations, and we were started five years ago out of concern for protecting the freedom and dignity of people across the globe. We have a particular concern about the rise of radical Islamist terrorism.

In the case of this delegation, we were interested in putting this together because we had a big concern about what has been happening in Egypt. We feel that Egypt is pivotal to the United States as well as to the Middle East and the Arab world, so I am very grateful for the extraordinary experts who went over there. I think they really deserve credit for the boot camp they have just been through, the travel, I do not think they were even allowed to sleep while they were there. And with that I am just going to introduce General Vallely.

So, the format here is General Vallely will just say a few words about their meetings. I think then each of the other participants will say a few words as well. Hopefully, a fourth member of the delegation, Sebastian Gorka, will come in and join them. He is just signing his furlough papers and then he will be here and then we welcome you to ask questions and just would ask that before asking a question, you identify yourself. And with that, let me give it over to General Vallely.

Maj. Gen. Paul E. Vallely:

Thank you, Katie. Well, good morning, everybody. I am glad to see none of you have been furloughed or signed your furlough papers like Dr. Gorka. So the government has shut down, but here we are. We are still existing and breathing and so on.

Well, we left Cairo yesterday at 4 o’clock in the morning, which meant we had to be at the airport at 2 o’clock, so we flew from Cairo to Frankfurt to here, got in last night and we are still wet. My cohort is here: Colonel Ken, as well call him, and his bio is in there, and Rick Francona, Air Force, and a friend of General Soyster, from years back. I see some friends in the audience here, so welcome. Thank you for taking the time. We have had quite an experience the last three days on this trip.

Now, about six weeks ago, I was inside Syria, and that was quite an experience, meeting with the Free Syrian Army and then to come back and then be asked to go over to Egypt. And my wife says, “What are you doing? Are you crazy?” She cannot quite figure it out yet. I said I probably am, but it has been a tremendous experience, going back into the Middle East. And looking at two of the hotspots over there, Syria and Egypt, has been a really enlightening experience.

I will say that you have to get on the ground in the Middle East to know what is going on, to touch and feel people and look into their eyes and talk to them. You cannot do it from in the beltway here and all of you who, you know, watch the media every day and you get a lot of dialogue on these interviews from people that seem to be reading other peoples’ information, going on the web, but no people of solid, real boots on the ground as they like to say.

The impact agenda that we had over there was set up by Westminster and Tara Dahl, who worked on Capitol Hill, and Tara did a fine job, by the way. She really put this together. We had an opportunity to meet with a cross section of the people that participated in what we will call the second revolution over there. The first was Mubarak, and then the second revolution being of course what they call the ousting of Dr. Morsi.

So we met with the Chamber of Commerce, wonderful luncheon with them in dialogue. Leaders of the commerce in Egypt, so they were able to tell us the situation of the economy and what they are looking forward to in the next year. We met with ambassadors, we met with academicians, professors, military political science over there.

Probably the most enlightening part were three other meetings, one day with 30-year olds who were part of the second revolution over there. The next day we met with a group of 20-year olds. I guess about twelve of them. So hearing from the youth over there of what was going on and what had happened was most revealing.

Then the day we left we had two hours with General Sisi and his staff. That is the biggest time period that he has given anybody. No other leader of any other country has been in there for more than forty-five minutes. We spent two hours and I think he wanted to spend more time with us.

It was historical what has happened and the change in government in Egypt, absolutely historical. Our government completely misread what was going on. It was not a coup. The Army assisted 33 million who protested against the Muslim Brotherhood, and what they had done, and what they were doing with the Egyptian culture and the politics over there.

So from that standpoint you have to understand how close the majority of the population is with the armed forces in Egypt. They have a relationship I have never seen in my life. It is true, it is solid. They are concerned, of course, about the perception from the West and from the United States. And I can tell you they are very upset with the United States, that we did not do our homework better, that our State Department did not do their homework better, and it sided with the Muslim Brotherhood during the protest.

We still have a great relationship with the military. Many of the generals who we met with had gone to the war colleges here, the National War College, the Army War College, Naval, Air Force. And the respect they still have – I want to make that clear, they respect the American people, but they cannot figure out what our government is doing and why they are doing it.

What we had hoped to accomplish over there was to listen a lot, understand what had happened in the last year in Egypt, and to bring back that message to the American people from their eyes. I say that because they are tired of I guess the United States as they see the rest of the world, trying to push our values, push everything in our eyes on other people. They would really want to say look at it from our perspective, be there with us and look, and then you can make your analysis.

I discussed with Ken this morning and Rick some of the key words from the impressions I received over there. Number one, the humility of these people. I found the same thing with the Syrian Generals who had defected. The amount of humility that they have between each other, no arrogance, very sincere about what they are doing and how they are doing it, but very unsettled with the support that they have not gotten from say, the United States and other Western countries.

So historical is another word. What had happened in Egypt has not been done. I cannot remember historically the change of government that has been done this way. You have to remember that they had no impeachment in their constitution. They did not have an impeachment vehicle. They will be putting that into their new constitution, which they are working on.

And we met with the Ambassador who is in charge of rewriting the Constitution. It has pretty much been done. They hope to have it finished and out after the first of the year. But they have gone to the people and said what do you want in our constitution? They have gone to the young people. They have young people absolutely sitting on their board of about fifty-eight who are working on this new constitution for Egypt. So that is sort of an overview. We are happy you could be here today. Ken?

Col. Ken Allard:

Thank you, sir. First of all, I must thank the Westminster Institute for giving us this incredible chance to do what we did for the last three days. It was amazing. I mean I lived in this town for twenty years, so I know how the powerful give time or do not give time to people like us to have access right across the board, and Egypt was amazing. Thank you so much to the Westminster Institute for setting this thing up. It was incredible.

I will focus initially in my brief remarks on two things. We must remember I am no longer a Washingtonian, I am a Texan, okay? I come from Texas where the blondes tell Rick Perry jokes, okay? We are very proud of these things. To me, I will always think of two things when I think back on this amazing adventure. Number one, we are in danger of losing a key, strategic ally in the Middle East. In fact, I would say the linchpin of the Middle East is Egypt.

If you look at a map, I know we do not teach geography anymore, but if you do, you will see two things. Egypt is critical, not only east-west with Israel, also north-south, the Nile, [which is] four thousand miles long and more people [live] around that river, drinking its waters and harvesting its products than are in Egypt itself, which is the most populous Arab nation with 90 million folks.

If we lose that, that is where I came into the picture, okay? [I was] a young officer in Germany in 1973 when the Arab-Israeli war began, and the big daddy rabbit then was the Russians. We were very concerned when the Russians coming across the line with us, but the Russians were also big in the Middle East. And so, after that we had a great reversal. Anwar Sadat reoriented Egypt from Russia to the U.S. That process me be about to change. If we allow that – because no one in Egypt that I talked to was at all enamored to Putin. The Russians are more subtle than that, they work quietly, softly, and effectively, but that is there, and do not think that it is not.

I looked at what was said to us and the amazing part to me was hearing what I heard. I heard generals, sitting there, talking to us, and saying friends do not treat friends this way. You are talking about the law about military coups. That did not happen here. And it so amazing, but a basic spiritual question came to mind. They are not asking for law, they are asking for a raise, but they are also asking us to be sensible about this whole thing.

Maj. Gen. Paul E. Vallely:

Let me just introduce Dr. Sebastian Gorka.

Col. Ken Allard:

The unemployed Sebastian Gorka.

Maj. Gen. Paul E. Vallely:

He had to sign his furlough papers this morning. Anyhow, welcome back.

Sebastian Gorka:

Thank you, General.

Maj. Gen. Paul E. Vallely:

We are going to let Ken finish, and then Rick, and then have you talk, and then we are going to do questions and answers.

Sebastian Gorka:

Wonderful.

Maj. Gen. Paul E. Vallely:

So keep your statements as short as possible so we can get into the questions and answers.

Sebastian Gorka:

Will do.

Col. Ken Allard:

And to me the other part that really got to me was the young people saying, why is the U.S. supporting terrorism? They consider the Muslim Brotherhood to be terrorists, obviously: terrorism against women, terrorism against churches, terror against the people. That was the thing which I think got me more than anything else is that aspect of how decisively against the Muslim Brotherhood they were.

So, how surprising was that to me as a political scientist to talk to Abu Musa, the guy writing the constitution? I am a political scientist, [so] I know the drill. I was on the Hill here for almost twenty years, I have written laws myself, and to have this guy say we are reaching out to every sector of Egyptian society, asking them what is going on. Then there is going to be a referendum. They are asking questions about what we do about [the] Muslim Brotherhood, are they allowed to actually participate, and a military force, what about that. Questions like, how about impeaching a leader, how do we do that? I mean basic stuff, things like will we have a presidential system or a parliamentary system.

All of these things were going on. I was so conscious of this, but to me it was so amazing.

A high point was meeting His Holiness, the Pope of the Coptic Christian Church. I was greatly privileged to give him the new book by my pastor, Max Lucado, to say this book is about Egypt, sir, it is about Joseph, and we are so honored to be in your presence. And what the Pope then did was to give each one of us one of these: Love never fails. If you are familiar with these things, you recognize Paul’s Letter to the Corinthians, Chapter 13. And to have him say that – the man who watched his churches burned, who watched his parishioners slaughtered, that is something very special. You do not see that every day. So when Paul says this is historic, it really, truly is.

And to me the most amazing part of this thing was on the way out of Egypt. I tried to get my Pounds exchanged. I still have them as you notice here. Why? Because they are not giving exchange rates back. They are in trouble economically and in trouble politically until this whole thing gets resolved. And they are looking to the U.S. to provide something which they have not provided, which is backing what has happened in Egypt. Until that occurs, they are in very serious difficulty.

So I look back at this thing. You know what? This fails. This does not.

Maj. Gen. Paul E. Vallely:

Very good, Ken. Rick?

Lt. Col. Rick Francona:

Thank you, Katie, for organizing this. This was an amazing trip. It was a little more fast paced than I would have chosen, but fortunately I had been to Egypt before because we did not even get to see the pyramids. How can you go to Egypt and not see the pyramids? I kept saying take them by the pyramids, take them by the pyramids.

It was probably one of the best trips I have ever had to the region, and I lived there. And I have talked to leaders from all over, but the level of access that we had was astounding. But there was a common thread throughout all of the meetings. I joked, I told the general, I think they have all gotten their talking points from Egypt-central because it was always the same thing in every meeting: we need political support, we need you not to judge us through your eyes, you need to look at this from an Egyptian sense.

And the general and I gave I think a pretty good interview to Egyptian television [with] very penetrating questions about America’s actions. And we turned a lot of that back. And why is the United States supporting the Muslim Brotherhood? We said why did you elect them? Let us start with that. This is not our fault. This is something that you are trying to correct, and we want to work with you.

I think one of the things that they are looking at and they are taking very seriously is their role in the region and in the Arab world, the Muslim world. As you know, Egypt, I consider it [to be] the heart of the Arab world. It is the biggest country, probably the most important. They have got the best armed forces. They also have Al Azhar, [which] is there, kind of the center of Sunni Islam. And [they] also [have] the Coptic Pope, who was actually very charming, by the way, in the face of what he is facing, 85 churches burned, a thousand homes of Christians burned. And you know, we do not always see the thousand homes of Christians burned. We see the churches [burned, when] talking about that.

And despite all of that, the hope that all of these people have that they are going to be able to fix this [persists]. I think maybe they are being a little naive. I think Omar Moussa was probably the only one that does not have a really naive [understanding]. I think that he understands because I asked him. I said, you know, the perception in the United States is that Egypt is not out of the woods. We do not know if this is going to work. You are not going to get foreign investment.

The tourists are not going to come back. I am trying to remember the numbers. Correct me if I am wrong, sir, but the tourism on the one company that you would deal with, this guy, this one company that we talked to, we talked to the president, and he said he had a big company. He said they were bringing in $9 million dollars a month prior to the revolution. This month he took in one hundred thousand. Now you do the math. He has got a whole staff that he has got to feed.

And they said we need the roadmap, the roadmap being the Constitution, the elections, the new government, and then everything will be swell, and then all of the tourists will come back, and all the foreign investment will come. I said it is not that easy. And Egypt does not live in a vacuum, and there are pressures from the outside that you need to deal with. And we talked a lot about Libya. They are very concerned about what is going on in Libya. The Muslim Brotherhood, the MB as they call them, is getting all of these weapons from Libya. There is just a pipeline coming through there. They are very concerned about what is going on in Syria.

I think they are kind of incredulous as to our policies towards the region, not only toward them in Egypt but what we are doing in the rest of the region, or what we are not doing. I think a recurring theme was – whether it is true or not, it is their perception – is you are the remaining superpower, [so] you need to be doing something, not necessarily what we should do, but we need to be doing something to address these issues in the region that we are very concerned about. They said that they realize how important Egypt is to this part of the world. They wonder if we know how important Egypt is to this part of the world.

And it was very telling.

I did play Devil’s advocate quite a bit at the time, in both languages because you have to do it in both [languages] so they understand what you are saying. The military coup d’√©tat thing – they said here is the answer. Here is what you can tell your government. It was not a coup d’√©tat. It was the people rising up. I said, and General Sisi telling the army not to intervene? That might constitute a coup d’√©tat. They were nuancing it out, and I understand what they are doing. But I think it was illustrative. It was fascinating, and I would be happy to share in response to any specific things that you want, but I think we all came away with the same feeling.

I think the Egyptians are more united in this than we might think. Of course, that being said, we did talk to most people that shared the same view. We did not have access to the Muslim Brotherhood. We were not able to arrange that, and I think we would have probably gotten a whole different perspective.

And one thing – as you drive through the streets of Egypt, I can read the graffiti. I am a graffiti-ologist I guess. Everywhere I go, I read the graffiti because I think there is a lot of truth in graffiti, and so I would translate as we were driving by what some of the graffiti was saying. There is still a lot of Muslim Brotherhood support on the streets, a lot. And they come around every night and repaint over the [graffiti]. They paint it out, and the next day it is there again, so there are still people there that are still willing to fight so Egypt is not out of the woods.

Maj. Gen. Paul E. Vallely:

Thank you, sir. Sebastian?

Sebastian Gorka:

Thank you, sir. Apologies for being late. I would like to make some comments in a purely personal capacity. Nothing I say here represents DOD or any other government agencies’ take, most decidedly not. I would like to thank the team because it was a whirlwind tour and they put up in good humor and really I think provided the Egyptian people with a certain level of comfort they have not received officially from anybody else, not in government, not from the ambassador, not from the bilateral relations. And I think the thirst they had to talk to Americans who were open to hearing the other side, the non-Muslim Brotherhood side of events was very clear.

It is correct. Whoever we met sounded as if they were coordinating their messages, which I know they were not, but whether it was the youth, whether it was the members of Tamarod, whether it was General Sisi himself, the Pope, everybody had some key themes that they wanted America, and the administration, and most importantly the people of America to understand. The first was, again, this was not a coup. They use the term: this is the ‘second revolution.’ The removal of Morsi was the second phase of the revolution.

The proof that it was not a coup was very clear. The people collected 22 million signatures to hold an early election because the government was failing. The military said, sir, we think it is a great idea. Would you go and have a referendum because then you could reinforce yourself? So you have the military saying to Morsi, if you get the right results in the referendum, [for] the next three years nobody is going to question you. You are going to stay in power. When he refused to give in to the 22 million, another 33 million went onto the streets in a country of 80 million. Could you [imagine]? One of the people said – do you remember – if a million Americans went onto the street demanding a referendum, what would the reaction be? Yeah? Here is 33 million.

And then General Sisi says, sir, we are going to have to do something. We have a week to respond. And then he gave him 24 hours, and finally when he refused to respond to the will of the people, Morsi was removed. But how can it be a coup if the military does not take control? A civilian, interim government took control, and a civilian constitutional council is drafting their new constitution, so this is not a case of the old guard sweeps in and the general becomes the president. This is an expression of the people’s will.

Secondly, the Muslim Brotherhood are not the people. This is a message that came across again and again and again. One of the young students said it very eloquently. The Muslim Brotherhood won the elections fair and square, but then for the next twelve months they governed for themselves. Every decision that was taken was for the benefit of the Ikhwan, for the Brotherhood, not for the people of Egypt.

Third theme: absolute incomprehension on behalf of our interlocutors as to why the government here was supporting the Brotherhood, absolute lack of understanding, and we have some incredible photographs from the actual second revolution, the days that removed Morsi, of English placards being used by the people on the streets where they said that “Morsi is terrorism. Why does America support terrorism?” [This was] in English being carried by the Egyptians on the streets. They wanted us to be very clear. On the ride to the airport on the way out they said to us, please understand this is not about hating America. We love Americans. We do not understand what your government is doing. They said we have been your best ally in the region, best Arab ally, for thirty, forty years. Why are you doing this to us now?

The takeaways: they said do not judge us by your criteria. You took hundreds of years to build a democracy. You had a civil war. It takes time to work these things out. We need understanding. We need time, and do not cut off support to us when we need it the most. The analogy they gave is, would you threaten a friend with blackmail? Even if a friend is doing something wrong, you try and assist them, you try and talk to them, but you break the relationship if you say to a friend, you know all of the help I have been giving you, if you do not do x, y, and z, I am cutting you off. That is not how you maintain a relationship with a trusted friend.

Lastly, from my own macro analysis of the relevance of this trip, everybody is obsessed today with the government shutdown. If we get past the government shutdown, if you switch on a TV or open a newspaper, what is it? Syria, Syria, Syria, Syria. Syria is practically irrelevant when contrasted to Egypt. Egypt is the center of mass for the region. As has been said, 88 million people [live in Egypt]. The most important theological institute in the whole of Sunni Islam is in Al Azhar. If we lose Egypt, forget about the region. The interconnectedness of the weapons coming from Libya into Syria, into Egypt [is what is important]. It is not about Syria. It is about Egypt and the future of that country.

For me, it is all the more important because this is the home of the Muslim Brotherhood. This is where Hassan al-Banna in 1928 created the organization that works hand in glove with Al Qaeda. Every key member of Al Qaeda was first a member of the Brotherhood. If Egypt can reject the Brotherhood, America will be safer. Egypt has rejected the Brotherhood. We need to, as their ally, do exactly the same.

This is all the more important because of what is happening in Turkey. Turkey was the shining light, the example of how to build a secular, Muslim state. I have been to Turkey recently. We are losing Turkey. Turkey is going anti-Atat√ľrk. You do not see the statues. You do not see the mosaics to Atat√ľrk. His secularization in creating a modern, functioning Turkish state is being taken back in time. If we lose Turkey as the model for a stable Muslim state, then Egypt has to step into its shoes. And the brave people that we met are trying to create a functioning, modern Muslim state. America should try and help them. Thank you.

Maj. Gen. Paul E. Vallely:

Alright, very good. Well, I think with that – one other key issue I will mention before we go to questions is the inclusiveness and the exclusiveness of the Muslim Brotherhood in the future over there. We have to understand the Muslim Brotherhood is very well funded, very well organized. They are experts at PR as far as what they put out, deception a lot like what the Russians and the Iranians use. They are very good at it. And we are not very good at it, and the Egyptian leadership realizes they have not been very good at it. They did not get the message out as they should have, and they realize that.

But the inclusiveness, something you may want to examine, is the Muslim Brotherhood has three legs to it. It has got a political arm. It also has a military arm, and support of Islamists. And third, their international, global reach of the global caliphate, and so the Egyptians realize if you are going to be a political party entity, you cannot have a military arm, and you cannot have a further extension of what you want to accomplish in the world with a global caliphate. So they are wrestling with this, how do we be inclusive when we cannot include the Muslim Brotherhood, with those three legs? So it is just something to consider.

Q&A

Audience member:

I want to take you back to the economy if you would. What did you hear about their prospects going forward economically? They cannot support themselves. They have destroyed their own economy. They have been bailed out at least temporarily by the Saudis, the UAE, the Kuwaitis. How do they see that relationship with those countries going forward? Do they expect more largesse from them, or how are they going to manage it?

Maj. Gen. Paul E. Vallely:

Great question. We did go into depth with two different groups on that, particularly the senior members of the Chamber of Commerce over there. They realize that the lifeline to them now is to the East, to the Arab countries that are supporting them, and not to the West, because they are not getting anything from the West. They are not getting understanding, they are not getting support, and so they are forced to do that.

Their plans for national security of protecting the sea lanes, the Suez, they know that is critical, and General Sisi said we will protect it, we are going to protect that supply channel for the world. We will be doing more in the Sinai because the vastness of that desert region has got to be secure, also, in order to protect commerce from that side of the river or the Suez. So they are very in tune to that.

They know that they are juggling a lot of different things now, but tourism in the economy is right up there as one of the top things that they have to do. But they have to secure and be stabilized, and only the armed forces can continue with the stabilization of the country, allowing them to grow and to attract foreign investment.

Col. Ken Allard:

The German banker lady who explained to me in Frankfurt yesterday about why she could not exchange this, [Egyptian currency], said it is too unstable. We do not know from one day to the next. When you hear that, you realize what is behind the true human cost we saw in Egypt, worst traffic I have ever seen ever. Imagine New York City without any rules or traffic lights, that is Cairo. You think it is better than 95, the Springfield exits? Nothing, but that is an infrastructure question, okay, because if you do not have infrastructure, you cannot make economic progress.

Those kids we saw are political science graduates, but they are all unemployed. Think of the energy that is there, and by the way, an energy that can be used for good or bad. So it is a very critical juncture for us economically as well as anything else. If you cannot lead economically, you cannot lead politically, and right now their need is economic more than anything else. The average Egyptian lives on $2 dollars per day.

Sebastian Gorka:

There is also an information campaign aspect of the economic question. The head of the American-Egyptian Chamber of Commerce told us that one day he was contacted by a fraught individual who wanted to have confirmation for the media that all of the American car companies were closing down because of the so-called coup, that they are basically shutting down the plants.

And he of course knows all of the American CEOs, so he rings them up and he says to the head of Ford, why are you closing down your plants? He said we are not closing down our plants. We are just shutting early for the day because of the curfew. But if somebody can send a message, that Americans are pulling out, [that damages the government].

And one of the things they said again and again, how do we get other governments, the British, the French, the Germans to remove us from the threat advisory for tourists? We were there. There is no danger on the streets right now, but there are no tourists. The hotels were absolutely empty. Well, this is a nation that up to 20 percent of its income comes from those tourists. But if our State Department [or] if the British Foreign Ministry is saying this is on a do not fly list, then we are actually going to accelerate the economic downturn in Egypt through our own lack of understanding of what is going on.

Lt. Col. Rick Francona:

While we were there, there was a summit going on about foreign investment, so they know that this is critical. They also know that they are not going to get foreign investment until they figure out getting a government in place, and this is going to take a year. So their biggest concern is how do we bridge that gap for that one year, and as the General said, they are relying on the Gulf, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, whoever, somebody to come in there and provide them some funding because they know they are not going to get it from the West.

Col. Ken Allard:

That is their lifeline.

Maj. Gen. Paul E. Vallely:

Okay, thank you. Next question?

Audience member:

Did you learn anything about the Egyptian investigation into Muslim Brotherhood involvement in Benghazi?

Maj. Gen. Paul E. Vallely:

No, that did not come up. What came up more than anything was Libya, and what is happening in southern Libya with the number of arms there and the training camps for Al Qaeda that are now land lining up to Syria to support the Al Qaeda [branch there], Al Nusra, forces in Syria. They are watching that very carefully because they figure that border with Libya also is highly exposed [to] threats inside of Egypt. So the whole dynamics they are watching very closely.

They talked a little bit about Tunisia and the threats over there as well and what is happening in Tunisia, but [they] did not really get into Benghazi. We did not have time.

Audience member:

Do they see Libya as kind of a staging ground for Al Qaeda coming back into Egypt?

Maj. Gen. Paul E. Vallely:

I would say yes, that is why that border there is very important, and they have secured it, and intelligence over there is watching that border, at least that was my perception.

Lt. Col. Rick Francona:

Yeah, as best they can. It is thousand kilometers long, and they have got very limited resources out there to secure it. They are doing the best they can using aircraft and such, but it is a real problem. And they mentioned that over and over, the Libya angle.

Col. Ken Allard:

On Libya, the hard news we have for you – I have never seen this before by the U.S. press as a report, but they told us there is a problem in getting the AH-64D Apache attack helicopter. That is apparently part of the slowdown that they have been dealing with.

Now, why is that critical? It is critical for two reasons. Number one, in any kind of domestic insurgency situation, it is a very precise instrument. In Bosnia, we used that all the time because the gun stuff on the Apache is far better than anything else that flies, and so you can operate close in with very little collateral damage. The other thing is that it can also widen out your area of view so you can use it for surveillance.

Maj. Gen. Paul E. Vallely:

Particularly in the Sinai, right, Ken?

Col. Ken Allard:

Sinai on the one hand, Libya on the other. So wherever you have the problem, the Apache can provide an answer, so that is one specific example where we are not supporting them the way we should.

Maj. Gen. Paul E. Vallely:

The other was the aircraft, Rick, going back to the F-4s and the parts, and going back and keeping the MiG-21s?

Lt. Col. Rick Francona:

Yeah, they have been forced into this situation now where with the stopping of the delivery of F-16, F-16 parts, that stops their modernization, they have still got about 48 percent of the Russian stuff, the East Bloc stuff. And what they have been doing is taking the F-4s out. The F-4s are gone out of service because they are too expensive to maintain commercially. There are no longer U.S. government parts for the things. They can do more with fewer F-16s, replace those, but now they are having trouble doing that.

And the same thing with the Apaches. They are having to cut back some of the operations in the Sinai because of the maintenance issues with the Apache, so they are using MiG-21s now. God, I remember MiG-21s when I was nineteen years old.

Maj. Gen. Paul E. Vallely:

If they can get the parts out of Ukraine, right?

Lt. Col. Rick Francona:

They can get parts for them.

Col. Ken Allard:

By the way, that shows you what we are talking about when we talk about the Russian possibility because you can go one of two ways. If 40 percent of your stock is former Warsaw Pact stuff, you can either go that way or toward us. It is their choice, but they live in a tough neighborhood. They must choose now.

Kathryn Gorka:

One of the criticisms of the military here in our press has been their heavy-handed use of violence. Did this come up as a topic of discussion?

Sebastian Gorka:

Oh, there was one superb anecdote. There was a certain square that Al Jazeera or CNN was reporting on. A certain channel unfriendly to the revolution was showing live feed from a square where violence was occurring, and they were using this to underline the brutality of the regime. At the same time, an Egyptian who lives on that square looked out his window, saw nobody, and then started to film what was going on, and gave it to an Egyptian domestic channel so they could put the falsified use of force by the government up against what the man is filming now. It was an empty square. So this is the level of information campaign that is being executed right now, the generation of violence.

And one thing that struck me on the Apaches, if this is such a dangerous group of, you know, military coup d’√©tat-oriented individuals, why would the head of the Egyptian Army tell us specifically – it is not this gentleman’s analysis, it was the General. The General said we cannot do precision-guided attacks on the bad guys if we do not have Apaches. He is concerned [because] he does not want to hurt people who are not bad guys. It was not us, it was him saying I want to do this but in a way that takes out the MB or Al Qaeda. So it is all connected to the information campaign.

Relations with Israel

Audience member:

Recognizing you were talking about Egypt and all of the problems it has, did anything come up about Israel, either our views or their concerns about our views?

Sebastian Gorka:

There was one half a sentence from the General which is very interesting. One of us asked about how is the regional cooperation going, because of all of these interconnected threats, and he said we have some cooperation with certain neighbors, and he listed them. And he said, and there is one other country which is very helpful.

Col. Ken Allard:

…another neighbor in the region.

Sebastian Gorka:

So yes, it was diplomatically put.

Lt. Col. Rick Francona:

But the concern about the tunnels over there still [remains at] the old Philadelphia line there between Gaza and Egypt is still a big problem, transferring weapons, Al Qaeda going over there. And what the Muslim Brotherhood does economically, as Hezbollah has done in southern Lebanon, is they put a lot of money into the local villages, medical, food, things like that so they really participate out there in those villages to win the people over. And they do it with cash, and they do it with goods, so they are very well organized.

But at the same time, the militant arm over there [is] supporting Al Qaeda operations, attacking villages. They killed I think it was a Brigadier police [official] in Egypt, so they know they have a continuing battle there. That is why the Sinai is so critical, because [it is] really like southern Libya. I mean it is a fertile ground for bringing recruits in, training them, and then sending them out in operations, not only internally in Egypt but externally.

Sebastian Gorka:

They have located more than one hundred and fifty tunnels in the Sinai already, the Egyptians, and the trouble is now the tunnels are coming out inside private houses into closets, so now the challenge is what is left. How do you locate those remaining tunnels?

Maj. Gen. Paul E. Vallely:

And to your question, sir, my impression was that of their neighbors, Israel is the least of their worries.

Col. Ken Allard:

That was the message they were giving us.

Maj. Gen. Paul E. Vallely:

Yeah, I wanted to get you because I want you to talk about the youths because we were talking about the youth in America. I am glad to see some of you younger people here today because I was more impressed over there in some ways with the 20 and 30-year-olds and how active they were, and how aware they were, and passionate about the situation. So anyhow, sir, go ahead.

Audience member:

Yes, I am far from an expert on Egypt, but in talking to one of my colleagues who has been there several times, she was wondering why is it that the secularists and the Christians and the moderate Muslims trust the military to handle power well?

Col. Ken Allard:

One of the things which I find fascinating about Egypt is the fact that it is a state relying on conscription. We, of course, in this country do not. I reminded General Al Sisi. I said look, let us remember in the U.S. only 1 percent serve, 99 percent do not. Consequently, the [United States] Army is them over there. In Egypt, it is us because every individual, when he reaches draft age, serves. [It is] only males, but that is a specific thing that society demands. [They have the] same thing, by the way, in Israel. So there is a level of trust because everyone has served. They understand what the Army does. Consequently, it was not them over there, it is us.

And one thing that came across very strongly – I mean I am a child of the ’60s – to see young people relying on the Army was amazing to me. It gave me a warm feeling down inside because I realize when you have that – which, by the way, our Founding Fathers thought we should have, too, not just a draft but the idea of the integration of what Clausewitz called the war of the people of the army, but they are almost always together. In Egypt, that was absolutely critical to the nation.

Lt. Col. Rick Francona:

I think it also empowered the people. I think they felt comfortable going out into the streets because they have that trust of the Army. And General Sisi made this point several times. He said the Egyptian Army has never fired on Egyptian civilians, and they never will. Now, whether that is true or not you could argue, but that is their feeling and that is generally the perception we got from the people, that the Army was probably the most trusted institution in the country. The only other place I have seen, the closest between the Army and the people, is Turkey. [Turkey] has that same thing, that same feeling.

Col. Ken Allard:

Right, that is true.

Lt. Col. Rick Francona:

And of course, the Israelis as you said. And I worked with these Arab militaries before, but I had forgotten how close the Egyptian Army is to the people.

Sebastian Gorka:

I was skeptical about General Sisi before I went to Cairo, and my opinion has completely reversed, especially based on one thing he did, and this might answer your question. Before the military took any action against Morsi, after the 22 million signatures had been collected, after the 33 million had gone onto the street, General [Sisi] made a press statement, and he said – I do not know if you recall. It was about a month ago, two months ago. He said next Friday would the Egyptians please go out onto the street because we would like to measure our legitimacy as the Army, as to whether we need to take action against an undemocratic President.

Now, I was skeptical because I thought, hang on, it is your job to protect the nation, not unarmed civilians. But when we discussed this with him in person, it was clear that this is a man who said we have no other option. He said, twice, if we do not remove this person who represents only his cadre, his clique, there will be a civil war in Egypt. And he said I have the choice of doing nothing or a civil war, and instead I am going to ask the Egyptians, do you give me the authority to remove this person who is undemocratic so that we can come in and create a new civilian administration?

That is remarkable, and that is why my colleague here, Col. Ken Allard, said this is almost Washingtonian, taking off his saber and saying I am a military man, but I am going to remove the person who is exploiting his powers, so that other civilians who have legitimacy can replace him. It was quite incredible, the depth of understanding of what democracy and legitimacy is, coming from a General.

Col. Ken Allard:

And can you imagine me, being from a war college, listening to that come from that guy, from his lips? I said to him, you are our sons and brothers, we taught you, you did these things on your own. So the analogy of Washington is very well earned. He did that; the Newburgh Conspiracy, and also, after he won at Yorktown, resigning in Annapolis. It is an amazing kind of legacy to look back on.

Audience member:

Dr. Gorka, what you just communicated concerning General Sisi is utterly lost to the American public. It has never been explained or articulated at any level whatsoever. Why? How is that message lost? The Muslim Brotherhood guys know how to communicate, how to get their message out. And some of that translation has not been made in any form other than what you have just provided.

Sebastian Gorka:

Do you want the three-hour answer to that question? Okay. I will respond with an illustration. How is it that an individual, who says she has a Ph.D. but does not, is associated with the wrong parts of the Syrian civil war, is fired for lying and completely misunderstanding the ethics codes of being a specialist, and then is hired the next week by Senator McCain? That is why we have a complete incomprehension here.

And the other thing I think the General said or somebody else said [is] we are very busy here. They are focusing on getting it right for the first time in seven thousand years. Should we have a president or a prime minister? What do we do with the status of Jews and Christians? How do we protect them in the constitution? You cannot blame them for not having a cogent, exterior, information policy. And in the meantime, that vacuum is filled by the brotherhood and everybody else who wants to misrepresent it.

So for me it was a wakeup call. I went there skeptical, and I walked out of this thinking, man, would I like to have some generals like Al Sisi in the U.S. Army, really sterling stuff.

Col. Ken Allard:

The other part of that question that I will answer is this. When the media turns from watchdog to lapdog, nothing else is going to happen. The reason why we have a free press is to keep an eye on the guys in the White House and Congress. I say this very conscious of the fact that I am in the National Press Club.

What you should also remember is the three of us here were lied about by The New York Times, libeled. Actually, that spawned four separate congressional investigations over three years. We were eventually vindicated. So we saw up close and very personal what happens when the media lies. So you asked the question, why have we not been told the truth. Frankly, that is not what they do.

Lt. Col. Rick Francona:

And [there is] the perception problem that the Egyptians have. They have not done a very good job explaining it. And I think, Sebastian, that is the best explanation I have ever heard of why it was not a coup [d’√©tat], but I can sit here all day, and I did this. [I told them to] tell me why it is not a coup [d’√©tat], and they nuanced it and nuanced it, but they are not doing a good job selling it.

Audience member:

A generalist does not dig deep. This is obviously a compelling presentation. Can you guys with precision tell us who shifted the U.S. policy on Egypt at White House, State, DOD? Who are the players here that a lot of us are not aware of?

Maj. Gen. Paul E. Vallely:

The same players about Benghazi, the same players about [Operation] Fast and Furious, the same players about Extortion 17. That is why the big argument or discussion is: are they doing it because they are totally inept in world affairs, or is it by agenda and by design? So that continues to be a question. Sebastian, you may want to add to that.

Sebastian Gorka:

This is a very important question, and we can talk offline about names, but let me tell you what a certain individual did in a very high position. There is an individual who is tasked with understanding terrorism and radicalization in America, and he goes to another country to study it, and comes back just as the country he is studying realizes their whole system for dealing with Al Qaeda is collapsing and has to be completely changed. He brings the failed recipe from that allied nation to the White House and develops our system. [That was] about three years ago. And this is the nature of the beast. This is what is driving all of our policy and our mistakes in the region.

This individual gave the following analysis. In the world there are three classes of Islamists, meaning those that are interested in a caliphate, three classes. There are the purists who believe only in da’wah, in proselytizing and education, so they are sitting in the ivory tower, and they will educate about the Qur’an, and eventually enough people will convert or believe that the caliphate is the answer. The second are the political Islamists who say preaching is not enough, education is not enough, you have got to create a political party, you have got to win elections, get out there, and grab control. Of course, this is the Brotherhood, one man, one election, once. The third group are the violent Islamists, the small number.

This analyst, who is now very senior in the NSS, said these are three, hermetically separated groups, distinct from one another, and the future security of America lays in us legitimizing and working with the political Islamists because they can save us from the violent Islamists. So in English, we had a policy decision made three years ago that the MB will save us from Al Qaeda. That is why we have people from here being sent to see Morsi in prison and General Sisi gets nobody. We were the people who went to see General Sisi, and we are not an official delegation. But we can talk about names and numbers later.

Maj. Gen. Paul E. Vallely:

We have names.

Audience member:

I am Egyptian, I am a Coptic activist, and I guess I have two points and one question. The first point is it is pretty much a military coup d’√©tat. I mean like all the numbers, 33 million, 3 million, 80 million – I was in Tahrir Square during the eighteen days before Mubarak stood down, and the capacity of Tahrir Square is no more than eight hundred thousand. And we were saying like there are 2 million people in the streets, so I am skeptical when it comes to Egyptians saying numbers. I am Egyptian myself.

The second thing is as much as I respect the Church, my church, I am really frustrated with the way that they are dealing with the suffering of the Copts. Since you met with Sisi, my question for all of you is why did Sisi not protect the churches? Why did Sisi not protect the Copts? Yesterday, a family was forced to leave from Minya, where Sisi forces are around. Why were the Copts not protected until this moment? Why can the Copts not be in a sensitive position in the government?

I think that, yes, the Muslim Brotherhood are totalitarian, [but] there are no founding fathers in Egypt to dream of democracy. There is no Jefferson. There is no Madison. There are secular [Egyptians] who define themselves as not [being] Muslims. So the answer is not what they have to give. They have nothing to give, but they are not Islamists. And I do not think in a democracy you can build on nothing.

Sebastian Gorka:

Okay, on the numbers, nobody said there were 22 million people in Tahrir Square. The General said that in Suez, in the north, across Egypt, those are the numbers. And he said, “Google Earth it.” He said you can go to Google Earth on the date and actually work out the rough estimate, and it is not Cairo downtown, it is Egypt. So I leave that to you to check.

On the Copts, my impression was, and maybe my colleagues agree, that one of the explanations for the violence in the beginning was because the Egyptian police were not capable of doing their job. There were some serious issues with the police being able to secure those places where violence was going to be imminent.

Now that has changed. If you look at the Sinai, the police are working in collaboration with the military so there is a far greater quality control because it was realized the police do not have the respect, do not have the capabilities that the military does, and now it has got to be done side by side.

On the Jeffersonian issue, I agree. I mean I spent fifteen years in the land of my parents, Hungary, after forty years of communism. Democracy is not a shake and bake venture. Jeffersons do not come out of the womb. These individuals have to find themselves. They have to work out the answers for themselves. All they want is for us not to push them. The whole time that we hear from them, “We are being pushed, have an election now, have an election now.”

Well, if they have an election now, you are going to see what? Another bad result. It has got to be done properly. They have got fifty people now in the constitutional committee, representing all walks of life from students to Copts, farmers, peasants, you name it. And they are saying we cannot work this out like that. It is not going to happen.

I think we should give them time, and maybe a Jeffersonian individual will develop, and it is not for us to say when it should occur.

Lt. Col. Rick Francona:

If I could just add to that, the Egyptian Army is not a monolithic organization. They are not all good guys. There is an element of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Egyptian Army, even in the officer corps, and General Sisi knows that, and he did ask us for that one thing. He said I need time to fix this. Unfortunately, in that period of time, you are going to have violence like that directed against the Copts. When the Pope talked about this, you could see he was visibly moved and shaken. I do not have an answer as to what the solution is. They are aware of it, but they know they need time. The Egyptian Army, for as good as it is, does have some bad elements in it.

Audience member:

The former U.S. Ambassador, Anne Patterson, was widely vilified in the protests and there was a lot of criticism. Was there any sense from the officials you were meeting with about the new U.S. Ambassador and Patterson’s elevation to a new position within the State Department?

Maj. Gen. Paul E. Vallely:

She was a hot topic in our discussions with everybody, and totally blindsided in a way by her. She was evidently so inept, did not do her homework, started siding with the Muslim Brotherhood immediately, and the amount of disgust that the people had for Anne Patterson [was evident]. They were very happy to see her depart. I am not sure, the school is out on the new ambassador, but that is part of the equation over there, that they could not understand how our State Department could misread everything over there so badly.

Col. Ken Allard:

But what you must remember [is] in both Egypt and Libya the ambassador represents one person, the president. So whatever he or she does or does not do, frankly, that reflects on that one person whose responsibility it is. Never forget that.

Maj. Gen. Paul E. Vallely:

Thank you, everybody. We really appreciate it, and we will be available, we will have our contact information. We will be happy to answer any further questions via email or through the Westminster Institute, Dr. Gorka and Katie. We will be very open to all of that.

Sebastian Gorka:

And we are compiling reports, so there will be a summary report of the whole trip available at Westminster.

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