Egypt: 100 days later

As if the duration of the revolutions and the tumultuous issues associated with it were not enough, the statements made by President Obama during the UN General Assembly on August 24th in regards to the United States’ relationship with Egypt have shown an utter disregard for the safety, security and democratic rights of the Egyptian people. “Our approach to Egypt reflects a larger point: The US will at times work with governments that do not meet the highest international expectations, but who work with us on our core interests,” the president specified. Egyptian-Americans for Democracy and Human Rights (EADHR) has a simple rebuttal to this stance: will the U.S. work with governments that do not meet even the most basic, essential and universal international expectations such as respect for the democratic process, protection against tyrannical rule and safety from physical harm? Based on the continued civilian crackdown and widespread bloodshed, the answer to that question is unequivocally yes.

Although the U.S. has finally made the decision to suspend select aid to Egypt, some aid still remains in place, and the U.S. continues to maintain a relationship with the military government in advancement of U.S interests. While the U.S. must consider its own interests in the region, it is baffling and disheartening to think the current administration would choose to discount the suffering that continues to occur on a daily basis as well as the complete violation of democratic principles which it espouses to the rest of the world. EADHR believes a peaceful solution to this crisis is still possible but it must begin with a commitment on the part of the United States to uphold democracy, regardless of whether or not it will serve the country’s national interests most effectively. As this past week marked 100 days since the coup and the lives of the Egyptian people continue to be sacrificed, the United States cannot be silent any longer for the sake of their own interests and convenience.

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This is just the latest in a long series of bewildering stances taken by the U.S. in regards to international relations. President Obama continues to push for a solution to the Syrian calamity yet told an assembly of world leaders at the UN that the U.S., “may disengage, creating a vacuum of leadership that no other nation is ready to fill.” Again, the U.S. must take domestic attitudes and issues into account. Such is the case with any free, democratic nation. But American leadership must also consider the unique position the country maintains globally as well as the long-term consequences of such behavior. To that end, Egypt represents a golden opportunity for the U.S. to uphold democratic values by pushing for the reinstatement of the democratically elected government, despite their shortcomings. This would aid tremendously in showing the world that, above any one particular physical interest, stands the mantle of freedom and the rule of law.

Should the U.S. fail to take such action, not only will it allow Egypt to fall back into the grasp of despotism, causing even more death and destruction along the way, but it will have cemented the belief that the pursuit of such freedom on an international scale is utterly meaningless. If the vanguard of modern democracy fails to see the importance of its own beliefs and chooses to ignore those who have chosen to follow its example, why should any government or group or individual attempt to take up the cause?

Shehata one of the Board of Directors of Egyptian Americans for Democracy and Human Rights (EADHR).