U.S. Response to Egypt Crisis
The United States has refused to take sides on Egypt’s political crisis. On July 3, President Barack Obama expressed deep concern for the army’s decision to remove President Mohamed Morsi and suspend the constitution. He called on the army to “return full authority back to a democratically elected civilian government as soon as possible.” On July 6, Secretary of State John Kerry condemned the violence and dismissed allegations that the United States supports the Muslim Brotherhood.
Deputy Secretary of State William Burns traveled to Cairo the following week. He met with interim President Adly Mansour and Prime Minister Hazem el Beblawi. But the ultraconservative Nour Party and the Tamarod anti-Morsi opposition group both reportedly turned down invitations to meet him. “We know that Egyptians must forge their own path to democracy… and we will not try to impose our model on Egypt,” Burns said on June 15. The following are excerpts from Burn’s remarks and the full texts of Obama and Kerry’s statements.
Deputy Secretary of State William BurnsJuly 15, 2013
My message has been simple: The United States remains deeply committed to Egypt’s democratic success and prosperity. We want a strong Egypt; an Egypt which is stable, democratic, inclusive, and tolerant; an Egypt which address the needs and respects the rights of all of its citizens. That is the Egypt that Egyptians deserve. That is the Egypt that can lead the rest of the region to a better future, as it has done so often during its rich and proud history. And that is the Egypt that can remain a pillar of moderation and regional peace at a time when violent extremists across the Middle East prey on frustration and hopelessness.
Let me try to be equally clear about another point: Only Egyptians can determine their future. I did not come with American solutions, nor did I come to lecture anyone. We know that Egyptians must forge their own path to democracy. We know that this will not mirror our own, and we will not try to impose our model on Egypt.
What the United States will do is stand behind certain basic principles, not any particular personalities or parties. Despite our concerns about the developments of the past two weeks, we believe that the ongoing transition is another opportunity, following the January 25th revolution, to create a democratic state that protects human rights and the rule of law and that enables the economic prosperity of its citizens. We hope it will be a chance to learn some of the lessons and correct some of the mistakes of the past two years. We hope it will be a chance to meet the aspirations of the revolution to ensure justice without revenge and to focus on a future shared by all Egyptians…
If representatives of some of the largest parties in Egypt are detained or excluded, how are dialogue and participation possible? The government itself has said it wants inclusion of all political streams. We’ve called on the military to avoid any politically motivated arrests and we have also called upon those who differ with the government to adhere to their absolute obligation to participate peacefully. It is hard to picture how Egypt will be able to emerge from this crisis unless its people come together to find a nonviolent and inclusive path forward…
We support the adoption of reforms that can lead to an early IMF agreement while sustaining funding for social safety net programs. We believe these measures offer a path to address the entirely justifiable aspirations of the revolution and realize the economic potential of Egypt and its people. It is crucial, as Egyptians know far better than I ever will, to get these economic choices right. No democratic political transition can succeed without a sense of economic hope and possibility…
I don’t think that Egypt is in danger of repeating the tragedy that we see in Syria today… What’s essential now is to ensure a sense of inclusion, so that at every stage in that roadmap – in the drafting of amendments to the constitution, in elections for parliament and for President, and in the formation of the interim cabinet – Egyptians from across the political spectrum feel a sense of ownership and a stake in that process. It seems to me that those are the principles that Egyptians have fought for over the course of the last two and a half years, those are the principles that were embodied in the revolution of January 25th, and those are the principles that the United States is going to continue to do everything that we can to support…
You’ll have to ask the Egyptian authorities about that [Morsi’s release]. But we’ve made our views clear on that issue…
Egypt has demonstrated in the past a record of fairly significant economic growth. For the better part of a decade, Egypt was growing at a rate of nearly 7 percent a year. The problem, of course, as you know better than I do, is that the benefits of that growth weren’t spread across society. And so that’s in a sense what the revolution is all about, is to provide equal political opportunities for people and equal economic opportunities as well. And those are the kind of opportunities that the United States will do everything we can to help support and help bring about.
Secretary of State John KerryJuly 6
The United States is deeply troubled by the violence across Egypt. We strongly condemn any and all incitement to violence or attempts to divide and provoke, rather than unite, all Egyptians. The United States strongly condemns the violence by all parties and urges calm. At the same time, we firmly reject the unfounded and false claims by some in Egypt that the United States supports the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood or any specific Egyptian political party or movement. The United States has always been and remains committed to the democratic process, not to any party or personality. We want Egyptians to make their democracy work for the good of all Egyptians. At this sensitive moment, we call on all Egyptian leaders to condemn the use of force and prevent further violence among their supporters and we urge all those demonstrating to do so peacefully.
The United States wants to see Egypt’s ongoing transition succeed for the benefit of the Egyptian people. The Egyptians themselves must come together and make the tough decisions necessary for that to happen. As I said in March when I was in Cairo, the United States supports the people of Egypt in their continued transition to a stable, sovereign Egyptian democracy. The only solution to the current impasse is for all parties to work together peacefully to address the many legitimate concerns and needs of the people and to ensure Egypt has a government that is responsive to the aspirations of the millions of Egyptians who have taken to the streets to demand a better future. Lasting stability in Egypt will only be achieved through a transparent and inclusive democratic process with participation from all sides and all political parties. This process must also ensure that the rights of all Egyptian men and women are protected, including the right to peaceful assembly, due process, and free and fair trials in civilian courts.
The Egyptian people seek and deserve an honest, capable and representative democratic government. As President Obama has said, “no transition to democracy comes without difficulty, but in the end it must stay true to the will of the people.” The longstanding partnership and friendship between the United States and Egypt is of great importance to the United States, and we will continue to support the Egyptian people to ensure that Egypt’s transition to democracy succeeds.
President Barack ObamaJuly 3
As I have said since the Egyptian Revolution, the United States supports a set of core principles, including opposition to violence, protection of universal human rights, and reform that meets the legitimate aspirations of the people. The United States does not support particular individuals or political parties, but we are committed to the democratic process and respect for the rule of law. Since the current unrest in Egypt began, we have called on all parties to work together to address the legitimate grievances of the Egyptian people, in accordance with the democratic process, and without recourse to violence or the use of force.
The United States is monitoring the very fluid situation in Egypt, and we believe that ultimately the future of Egypt can only be determined by the Egyptian people. Nevertheless, we are deeply concerned by the decision of the Egyptian Armed Forces to remove President Morsy and suspend the Egyptian constitution. I now call on the Egyptian military to move quickly and responsibly to return full authority back to a democratically elected civilian government as soon as possible through an inclusive and transparent process, and to avoid any arbitrary arrests of President Morsy and his supporters. Given today’s developments, I have also directed the relevant departments and agencies to review the implications under U.S. law for our assistance to the Government of Egypt.
The United States continues to believe firmly that the best foundation for lasting stability in Egypt is a democratic political order with participation from all sides and all political parties —secular and religious, civilian and military. During this uncertain period, we expect the military to ensure that the rights of all Egyptian men and women are protected, including the right to peaceful assembly, due process, and free and fair trials in civilian courts. Moreover, the goal of any political process should be a government that respects the rights of all people, majority and minority; that institutionalizes the checks and balances upon which democracy depends; and that places the interests of the people above party or faction. The voices of all those who have protested peacefully must be heard – including those who welcomed today’s developments, and those who have supported President Morsy. In the interim, I urge all sides to avoid violence and come together to ensure the lasting restoration of Egypt’s democracy.
No transition to democracy comes without difficulty, but in the end it must stay true to the will of the people. An honest, capable and representative government is what ordinary Egyptians seek and what they deserve. The longstanding partnership between the United States and Egypt is based on shared interests and values, and we will continue to work with the Egyptian people to ensure that Egypt’s transition to democracy succeeds.