The crisis in Egypt is in no one’s interest

The UK government should make any further economic and military support to Egypt conditional on the return to democracy.

Tarek Abdelhakim is a member of British Egyptians for Democracy

The reaction of the US and EU governments to the crackdown on protestors in Ukraine has been swift. EU governments seem to be considering possible sanctions on Ukrainian officials, the US warned the Ukrainian government of “consequences” on relations, and the prime minister of Ukraine was not allowed to speak at the World Economic Forum at Davos.

This stern reaction comes as up to five protestors have been killed in clashes with the police in Kiev over the past week.

In contrast, the EU and US governments have been very lenient, if not supportive, of the crackdown of the military regime in Egypt – a crackdown which has resulted in “the worst repression that Egypt has known in decades”, according to Human Rights Watch.

According to human rights organisations, close to 3000 people have been killed since the July coup, including close to 100 people on 24 and 25 January. Thousands more have been injured, and reports estimate that more than 15,000 prisoners of conscience and political prisoners are in Egyptian jails.

The EU and the US governments have been continuing business as usual with Egypt’s military regime – effectively endorsing the brutal assault on the nascent democratic process in Egypt.

The UK government has to choose whether to continue contributing to the deteriorating situation in Egypt or to play a responsible role in helping Egypt return to the right path towards democracy, freedom, stability and respect for human rights and human lives.

In addition to maintaining credibility and upholding the British values of freedom, democracy and the rule of law, it is in the core interest of the UK that Egypt does not continue on the dangerous path it has taken following the July coup.

Commentators have been warning of scenarios similar to Algeria, Iran, Syria, Venezuela and even Rwanda and North Korea. Reaching one of these scenarios, or even a less severe scenario, in a country with the geographic and strategic importance of Egypt would not be in the interest of anyone.

The UK government should make any further economic and military support to Egypt conditional on the return to genuine democracy and to the respect of human rights and human lives. We should apply economic and diplomatic pressure on the military government for the release of thousands of prisoners of conscience and political prisoners, starting with democratically elected President Mohamed Morsy.

We should also support an international inquiry into the massacres of civilians. This approach toward the crisis in Egypt will not only enshrine credibility of a principled foreign policy, it will ultimately serve our long-term strategic and security interests.

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2 Responses to “The crisis in Egypt is in no one’s interest”

  1. swatnan

    Egypt has had Military Rule continuously, interrupted briefly by a democratically elected President Morsi; he may not have been what the Egyptian people desired, but at least they voted for him fairly. Little did the people know that he was a front man for the extremist Muslim Brotherhood, but at least they voted him in, and could vote him out, theoretically. The grand tradition of of military dictatorship inspired by Col Nasser continues with Sisi.

  2. T Abdelhakim

    Thank you for your comment. I agree with your comment, except for the statement that the Muslim Brotherhood is extremist. The Muslim Brotherhood is a moderate mainstream political and social organisation that has been in existence in Egypt since 1928. Over the years, it has implemented extensive social and charity programmes across Egypt that has impacted the lives of millions of Egyptians. It has not been involved in any violence in the past decades, despite a brutal crackdown from the dictatorships in Egypt against any voice of opposition. As a result, grassroots popularity of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt has been created, which culminated in the consecutive electoral wins of the group and its candidates.

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