Brett Daniel Shehadey
Special Contributor for In Homeland Security
As Egypt undergoes its transition back to secular nationalism it is resorting to security state with secret police. A deep state allegedly run by General Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, the SCAF, the Interior Ministry, and other secular nationalists appears evidently in control behind the interim President and cabinet. Adly Manour is technically the head of state, but not the real power.
Should the democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi really be imprisoned? There is no legal basis for it; although one could argue an evident case of abuse and scandal- hardly something endemic to one political faction of Egypt. A removal was all that was necessary. A trial would be needed to determine his guilt but that would also just be a matter of selective targeting and application of law.
Obviously, releasing Morsi would threaten to delegitimize the Interim President Adly Manour and cabinet that the military. Releasing Morsi might also create an even stronger resistance and a potential rival government underground that only recognizes his authority. But such a movement might take place anyway. Foreign terrorists are also a greater problem and perhaps the Syrian Civil War has also been a factor at keeping them away from Egypt or isolated in the Sinai region.
By keeping Morsi in prison the “deep state” enforces a radio silence on their enemies. In tandem, they have arrested the Muslim Brotherhood leadership who had been the backers of Morsi and his regime. Demonstrators are also being targeted.
The Morsi question is not likely to disappear from internal or outside pressures. Present activity of the “deep state” is unaccountable to anyone and drawing criticisms from everyone. The US condemns the violence against protestors. An EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton was allowed to visit Morsi. They spoke for two hours; most likely to verify his condition of health. “I said I wouldn’t come unless I could see him,” Ashton said.
The US has been unwilling to call the actions of al-Sisi a “coup.” If it does do so, experts say that this would prevent the US from sending foreign aid (which is said to be annually around $1.5 billion for military and economic assistance). The Egyptian military and the economy are badly in need of aid and have received billions in loans from Arab states as well since Morsi’s ousting.
Chief of Staff General Martin Dempsy has made multiple calls since the deposing of Morsi on July 3. “I wanted to encourage them to protect all the Egyptian people, not to take sides in any particular issue, and to ensure that they were a part of the resolution of this, but in their proper role as a military which is to ensure stability, but not try to influence the outcome,” Dempsey said in a CNN interview.
Secretary of State John Kerry said of the Egypt: “Its final verdict is not yet decided, but it will be forever impacted by what happens right now. In this extremely volatile environment, Egyptian authorities have a moral and legal obligation to respect the right of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.”
So far the official diplomatic US response has been to urge Egyptian authorities to stop the violence and aim for “reconciliation and democratization,” While at the same time planning on continued relations and aid.
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